The Importance of Forward-Thinking Legal Incubators
The traditional Bay Street giants have ruled the legal industry for decades. Many of these mega-firms have succeeded in implementing an extremely rigid, standardized approach to the provision of legal services. However, legal technology has made small and medium-sized firms more competitive than ever, and positive, forward-thinking change is vital to the continued success and viability of any industry.

Amina Juma, a third-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, is just one of many young entrepreneurs that has recognized the role that technology will play in developing the next generation of comprehensive legal services. With the help of Ryerson’s Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ), Juma is developing a web-based tool that provides self-represented litigants with easy access to pertinent legal information.


Juma isn’t alone in pushing an innovative service to market, and in 2015, Canadians developed two unique incubators with the goal of assisting new companies in the creation of innovative tools for the legal profession and, perhaps most importantly, making those tools accessible in the marketplace.

LIZ is just one part of a network of incubators operating under the direction of Ryerson University. Each “zone” specializes in a specific industry that is poised for growth. According to their website, “The Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University is a co-working space for the people and ideas that will change the status quo of Canada’s legal system.”

A big part of what the team at LIZ does involves partnering with established organizations, local and provincial government entities, and the legal community in order to create a collaborative working environment that allows each individual entity to pursue its’ own legal innovation agenda while also tackling larger regional challenges in the industry.

MaRS LegalX

MaRS LegalX is another incubator created with the purpose of bridging the gap between innovative technologies and the practical side of law. They specialize in forming partnerships with lawyers, law firms, and businesses dedicated to driving change in the legal sector.

LegalX is just one cluster in the larger MaRS project, which has been working as an innovation hub for multiple sectors, including legal and healthcare, for more than 15 years. According to Aron Solomon, innovation lead for LegalX and senior advisor for education technology at MaRS, investment fuels everything, and adequate funding is hugely important in the early stages.

Within the first six months of its inception, LegalX startups raised more than $3 million to launch their innovative businesses. “I think we have made huge inroads for capital and early-stage funding,” says Solomon.

Giving Ideas Life

Toronto continues to be a hub for innovation, but without the proper resources in place, many great ideas are likely to fall by the wayside. Legal incubators such as LIZ and MaRS LegalX are helping to create an environment in which innovative legal technologies can thrive and receive a fair opportunity to make an impact in the international marketplace.

“The world needs an innovative legal system,” says Chris Bentley, executive director of LIZ and the Law Practice Program, which is also based at Ryerson University. With the help of the region’s many forward-thinking legal incubators, this is exactly what today’s bright young entrepreneurs hope to create.


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Posted by: DSR
Friday, April 1, 2016
Tag: Legal
Business Start Ups
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