Five years ago we launched LIZ, the world’s first business incubator dedicated to legal tech at Ryerson University. Our goal was to help build better legal solutions for consumers. We have supported entrepreneurs, helped public and private bodies advance their agenda of change, and challenged a justice approach that serves fewer and fewer of the people and businesses as effectively as it must. As we take a moment to reflect, while social distancing in the middle of a global pandemic, we can be both pleased at how far we have come, and yet determined to move even further and faster.
The pandemic has laid bare the systemic failings of so much of our justice system. The failure to keep consumers at the centre, combined with the refusal to change what so clearly doesn’t work, combined to create a system that served about 20% of the legal needs of people and businesses before the pandemic. Now, even many of the 20% are being denied the justice they have a right to.
Far from being pessimistic, however, our journey makes us optimistic that the consumers’ right to justice is within reach. We just need to move, or get around, those who refuse to change. If all legal consumers could benefit from the ideas, products and approaches that are now available or being developed, let alone those that will be, most consumer justice needs would be met. We need to take down artificial barriers and outdated restrictions.
We have had the privilege of working with so many entrepreneurs who relentlessly pursue a dream. You are a source of inspiration, and we are pleased for your success. We have seen tradition-bound organizations pursue a different path, and are encouraged by your willingness to try. We have been energized by innovative leaders from across Canada and throughout the world, and have used that energy to help others take the first step. Throughout it all, we have been delighted to work with a strong, capable, friendly LIZ family. We have accomplished a lot together.
What a journey! We look forward to the next 5 years.
Happy Birthday LIZ. Thank you to all.
Chris Bentley and Hersh Perlis
We love this video. Take a look, enjoy, and then read more of the year by year highlights:
2015-2016 The LIZ Opens
- Launch the LIZ – President Sheldon Levy & Guest speaker Carla Goldstein
- Hackcess to Justice: Rural & Remote Communities – with Ryerson students, LAO & The Boldness Project
- Family Reform Community Collaborations – 250+ participants, 6 sessions
- Legal Tech Bootcamp – Ryerson students, 5 years running, Youth Access focus
- Access to Justice Challenge – MAG partnership, $50k, 40 teams, 3 winners
2016-2017 Growing our Presence
- Keynotes, panels, and book launches with speakers including: Monica Bay, Jordan Furlong, Mitch Kowolski, Daniel Susskind, and Hon. Minister Yasir Naqvi.
- Lawyering in the 21st Century – Global conference, partnership with LexisNexis
- Osler Partnership Launches – Big Law Hackathon
2017-2018 Family Law Reform begins
- AI Legal Challenge – Partnership w/ MAG, $75k cementing Ontario as AI Legaltech Hub
- Youth Access to Justice – supported by The Law Foundation of Ontario
- Global Family Justice Initiative – Hosted conference for family law innovators
2018-2019 Incubation Numbers Increase
- Family Law Portal – Launched with support from Avanti Foundation and Law Foundation of Ontario
- OBA Partnership – LIZ is announced as OBA’s Innovator in Residence
- Leaders in Legal Innovation Workshop – Launched a workshop to help aspiring changemakers by connecting them with leaders who know about strategies for success, and how to overcome challenges.
2019-Present LIZ Goes Global
- LIZ Goes Global – Launched two online incubation programs with participants around the world.
- Lawyering from Home – In response to COVID-19 held 3 workshops to get lawyers up and running with their remote practices.
- Legal Gold Rush: Unmet Legal Need – Launched an online series with international speakers to help identify and arm lawyers with the tools to open the legal market.