About Us

The Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) is a co-working space and the first legal tech incubator with a focus on building better legal solutions for the consumers of legal services. The LIZ helps support, foster and develop solutions and techniques to improve legal services and the justice system.

Entrepreneurs, lawyers, students, tech experts, government members and industry leaders converge in the Legal Innovation Zone to drive legal innovation. Based on the model of the DMZ — Canada’s #1 university-based incubator, where more than 150 startups have grown their businesses — we help support, foster and develop solutions and technologies that aim to improve the justice system and legal services.

 

The LIZ has three primary focus points:
Incubation

The LIZ supports startups that are building technology based solutions for legal consumers.

Supporting Innovation Agendas

The LIZ works with companies, law firms, governments and organizations to help propel their own legal innovation agendas from ideation to execution.

Designing 21st Century Justice System

The LIZ initiates various projects to help drive technological and/or systemic change in the legal field.

Member of the Ryerson Zone Learning Network
The Legal Innovation Zone belongs to Ryerson University’s network of Zones, each specializing in sectors that are poised for growth and transformation. These zones are helping to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and changemakers from Ryerson and beyond.

Our Partners

Osler
Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario
Law Foundation of Ontario
Ryerson University
Canadian Bureau for International Education
Zone Learning
Startup School

Our Team

Chris Bentley

Chris Bentley

Managing Director

Chris is the Managing Director of the Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) and the Law Practice Program (LPP), both housed at Ryerson University, Toronto.  Chris co-founded LIZ, Canada’s first incubator dedicated to legal startups, to help deliver better legal solutions to consumers.  It supports legal startups, R & D for law firms, businesses, organizations and government, and practical reform initiatives.  Chris led the development of the LPP, a modern approach to lawyer licensing authorized by the Law Society of Ontario. Chris was elected as an Ontario MPP for London West from 2003-2013.  He was a member of Cabinet for all 10 years, serving as Minister in 5 Cabinet posts:  4 years as Attorney General, as well as Labour, Training Colleges and Universities, Aboriginal Affairs, and Energy.  He drove a number of change initiatives, such as Justice on Target (that reduced, for the first time in 18 years, the time to trial and the number of court appearances per criminal case), a […]

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Hersh Perlis

Hersh Perlis

Director

Hersh Perlis is the Director of the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University. Prior to coming to Ryerson he spent almost 5 years at Queens Park as a Senior Advisor to several ministers. While at Queens Park he helped create, expand and oversee a number of key initiatives on behalf of the government. These included the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games as well as other initiatives such as the Industrial Electricity Incentive Program and the Right to Play program for rural and remote First Nation communities. Prior to his time in government he was Director of Development for a national not-for-profit organization. Sports, politics and the lake are his passion and he enjoys them with his wife and two sons.

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Nafis Ahmed

Nafis Ahmed

Startup Experience Coordinator

Nafis is the Startup Experience Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University. Nafis graduated from Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management, where he majored in Business Technology Management and minored in Human Resources Management. Nafis facilitates Legal Innovation Zone’s community of startups in various stages of their development. Additionally, he oversees the daily internal operations of the LIZ’s co-working environment. He is deeply involved in entrepreneurship and social innovation initiatives through his volunteer activities, and is passionate about supporting individuals pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.

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Deborah Jesus

Deborah Jesus

Marketing Coordinator

Deborah is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Legal Innovation Zone. She holds a master’s degree in Communication and New Media from McMaster University. Prior to her current role, Deborah supported the integration of immigrants and refugees into Canadian society at Skills for Change as Marketing and Communications Supervisor. Deborah is a communicator and a connector. By leveraging technology, she links people to the resources and tools that will empower their success. Deborah eagerly participates in initiatives that foster diversity and inclusion.

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Jason Muloongo

Jason Muloongo

Program Manager

Jason is the Project Manager of the Family Reform project. Working with Canadian Family Mediation industry leaders, this project aims to educate, screen, and triage couples going through separation to find alternatives to court. Jason is an accomplished education technology entrepreneur. He cofounded a startup in 2012 that aimed to help universities in Africa go online. For this, his company was recognized by the U.N. as one of the top edtech companies to help meet the Millenium Develoment Goals of 2015. He also went to Davos for the World Economic Forum to present to Christine Lagarde and other leaders on the role of education plays in the spirit of excellence for the African continent. He came to Canada after having his startup acquired by Canadian investors. He now enjoys working on new projects that push the boundaries of innovation.

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Dorsa Eshtehardian

Dorsa Eshtehardian

Marketing Assistant

Dorsa is a fourth year Business Management student at Ryerson University majoring in Law and Business and minoring in Marketing. Dorsa is also the President on the Law and Business Student Association at Ryerson for the 2018-2019 term. She is passionate about employment law and hopes to go to law school post graduation.

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Ridhey Gill

Ridhey Gill

Startup Experience Assistant

Ridhey is a fourth year student at Ryerson University in the Business Management program, majoring in Law and Business. Ridhey is actively involved with the Law and Business Student Association and will be a third-time returning member as the Executive Vice President this year. Upon graduating, Ridhey hopes to further her legal education and use her knowledge to create positive change and help others.

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Our Advisors

Friedrich Blase

Friedrich Blase

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

I am an entrepreneur, business builder and legal industry leader, with expertise in improving the competitiveness and financial performance of legal service providers. As one of the founding directors of The Un-Firm of the Future, I work with buyers and sellers of legal services to significantly improve the legal coverage at substantially lower costs. I sit on boards and advise legal tech companies.

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Sheetal Jaitly

Sheetal Jaitly

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Sheetal is an entrepreneur and avid investor in the startup space, but first and foremost he is the CEO of TribalScale–a digital firm that specializes in the design and development of world class digital products. Throughout his career, Sheetal has seen the potential of technology to transform businesses and is dedicating his life’s work to support brands in creating digital solutions that innovate businesses and resonate with users.

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Joe Milstone

Joe Milstone

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Joe Milstone is Founder, Axiom Canada, and Co-Founder, Caravel Law (formerly Cognition LLP). Before the sale of Cognition’s General Counsel-facing business to Axiom in 2016, Joe was co-founder and CEO of Cognition LLP, Canada’s first and leading alternative model business law provider, offering an ideal alternative to hiring one or more full-time in house counsel or retaining a traditional business law firm. Giving clients the best of both worlds, Cognition’s (and now Axiom’s and Caravel’s) unique model provides senior, dedicated, business-minded legal advice at affordable rates through a trimmed down overhead structure and technology advancement. Founded in 2005, clients include multinationals/conglomerates such as Volkswagen, Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, Rexall, Rogers Communications and a number of Canada’s leading financial institutions, as well as well known growth companies including Hootsuite, AudienceView Ticketing, Sysomos and Top Hat Monocle. Before Cognition, Joe served in the capacity of Vice-President, Legal and Business Services at both Magna Entertainment Corp. and Call-Net Enterprises Inc. (Sprint Canada). […]

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Catalina Anghel

Catalina Anghel

Advisor

Catalina is a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Business Valuator. She currently works at a leading professional services firm specializing in damages quantification, business valuation, and forensic accounting. Prior to that, she was a Valuation and Business Modelling Manager at Ernst & Young where she specialized in corporate valuations, post-acquisition due diligence, and loss quantifications. Catalina is well versed in valuations for start-ups, forecasting and budgeting, working capital management, capital allocation decisions, shareholder/ partner rights, investment returns and benchmarks, and financial analysis. She will help you grasp your business’ value and value drivers, which are key and strategic confident boosters ahead of any pitches or when facing potential investors. Join Catalina for a Valuation Primer Workshop in the new year (details coming soon), and connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Shelby Austin

Shelby Austin

Advisor

Shelby Austin is the Innovation and Growth Leader for Deloitte’s Financial Advisory Practice and also leads our Legal Project Solutions (“LPS”) offering. LPS focusses on managing large-scale document review and due diligence projects on litigation and competition matters and corporate transactions. Shelby also consults on Legal Spend Management for corporate legal departments. Prior to joining Deloitte, Shelby was the Founder of ATD Legal Services PC (“ATD”) in Toronto, which was acquired by Deloitte. Prior to founding ATD, Shelby was a Partner at a large Bay Street law firm where her practice focused on complex corporate and commercial litigation matters. Shelby is also the recipient of several awards, including, the Risings Stars award given by Lexpert Magazine to Canada’s leading lawyers under 40, and the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award given by The Women’s Executive Network (WXN). ATD was also named one of Canada’s Hot 50 companies by Profit Magazine. Shelby is an author of the 2015 release, A […]

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Mihnea Galeteanu

Mihnea Galeteanu

Advisor

Mihnea has spent the past 15 years imagining, building, breaking and marketing Software products of all shapes and sizes, currently serving as a Director of Product Management at Points and adviser to a couple of startups . Whether at work or at home, he splits his time equally between making and creating a culture of making and entrepreneurship. “Why” is his favorite question.He values “What if” over “No”. Walk and talk over stuffy rooms with slides. He’ll take the word of your current or future users (or the data you have about them) about you over your own words about yourself. Mihnea holds a Bachelor of Enginneering in Software from Carleton University, an MBA from the Rotman School of Management and is hard at work on earning a “Father of the Year” mug.

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Monica Goyal

Monica Goyal

Advisor

I began my career working as an engineer in R&D for companies like Toshiba, Nortel and Nokia while earning my Masters of Engineering at Stanford. I love law and my background as an engineer has made me a problem solver, an approach I bring to law. This lead to two legal initiatives My Legal Briefcase and Aluvion Law. My focus is to help people solve legal problems in an efficient and tech-savvy manner. I also love teaching and am teaching a course Legal Information Technology at York University’s Osgoode Hall. I was fortunate enough to be named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in the Journal of the American Bar Association.

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Jennifer MacInnis

Jennifer MacInnis

Advisor

Accomplished intellectual property and contracts lawyer with substantial university and hospital experience in research contract drafting and negotiation, invention evaluation and licensing, and research policy development. Provides advice and training on research agreements, commercialization, policy development, and office processes. Specialties: A member of the Ontario bar since 1999, with expertise in intellectual property, licensing and contract law, and negotiation.

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Dianne Rychlewski

Dianne Rychlewski

Advisor

Marketing and Business Development executive with over 18 years progressive experience within the legal industry as well as in the high tech, payments, software and telecom industries. Proven, decisive and internationally experienced in the leadership, development and implementation of all aspects of marketing communications and business strategy development and a record of leveraging creative thinking to drive growth, lead change and execute a well crafted innovative plan that drives revenue and builds equity in the brand on a local, national or global basis. A proven track record of successes and experience within the legal industry and within the technology industry in establishing, revitalizing and launching an organization, its executives, its products and services into key target markets globally and significantly improved the positioning, tone and recognition of the organization through strong marketing and business management strategies and progressive and solid programs to capture measurable increases in recognition, profile, market share, client perception and ultimately revenue. A founding board member of […]

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Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders

Advisor

As President of Ryerson Futures, Matt manages a seed stage investment fund and multiple acceleration programs for early-stage technology companies, as well as the Innovation for Hire consulting practice for corporate clients. He has more than 18 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive working with companies in the technology and service sectors. Matt currently oversees operations in Canada, (Ryerson Futures, Zone Startups Sports + Media in Toronto and Zone Startups Calgary in Alberta), as well as Zone Startups India in Mumbai. Matt has a bachelor of science in business administration and MBA from Northeastern University.

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Alex Thibault

Alex Thibault

Advisor

In 2015, Alex sold a legal tech company called Edilex to a fast growing law firm who wanted to get into the tech game. He is currently a partner at Therrien Couture Lawyers, where he still leads the long term strategy for Edilex. He also acts as a business advisor for startups and mid-sized companies, helping them deal with everything from increasing Customer Lifetime Value to structuring their shareholder agreements.

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Rebecca Tran

Rebecca Tran

Advisor

Rebecca spent over a decade in consulting and advising companies with their R&D and government incentives strategies. Prior to joining the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Rebecca led the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) and tax incentives group for SMEs out in Western Canada, with Ernst & Young. These days, Rebecca actively covers the GTA as a Business Development Manager at OCE, helping companies of all sizes better navigate government support to grow their business and spur technological advancement and economic development.

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Eric Wai

Eric Wai

Advisor

LexisNexis is a leading global provider of legal information and technology. I oversee the operations and long-term strategy for the large-law firm customer segment of our Canadian business. Prior to joining LexisNexis, I worked as a corporate/commercial lawyer and knowledge management lawyer with Canadian and international law firms (Stikeman Elliott and Appleby-Bermuda).

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