By: Kathryn Marshall
When it comes to technology, the legal profession is not known for being an early adapter. Indeed, law firms are likely the reason that fax machine companies are still in business.
This is slowly changing. More and more, the legal industry is embracing technology and looking at ways to make legal services more accessible in our tech savvy world. Some of this innovation is happening right here in Toronto.
I had the opportunity to check out the newly launched Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) at Ryerson University. They’ve dubbed themselves “Canada’s First Legal Incubator”, and they are doing some pretty awesome (dare I say Lawsome) stuff.
I sat down with LIZ Director Hersh Perlis, who explained the purpose behind the incubator was to help design and develop a 21st century justice system by fostering innovation. LIZ is partnering with companies and individuals who are working on their own legal innovation projects. LIZ is also partnering with law firms to help them innovate internally.
Unlike some incubators, LIZ does not provide funds. Rather, their goal is to create a “culture of innovation”, as Hersh puts it. LIZ provides an energetic, open concept workspace and mentorship in exchange for participants bringing their ideas and innovation to the table.
Hersh made a point of emphasizing that LIZ is not a think tank. Their goal isn’t to generate reports or research, it is to come up with “solutions that can be implemented right away”, says Hersh.
So far there are 7 teams working with LIZ, and I had a chance to speak with some of them while I was touring the center. The teams were all working on ideas that will make our legal system easier for the public to navigate – from finding a lawyer to figuring out the court system. That was refreshing to see, since a lot of legal tech innovation these days is geared towards making it easier for lawyers and firms to do their jobs.
LIZ currently has 16 work stations, however they are hoping to grow their space and are accepting applications for participants on a rolling basis. So far, the response to LIZ from the legal industry has been very friendly, says Hersh. They had a packed room for their April launch and have seen a steady stream of applications.
So – do you have an idea to help develop a justice system fit for the tech age? Consider applying to LIZ. You never know, your idea may be the next big thing in law since the fax machine!