Interview | Demetrio Zema (Law Squared)
Sophie (TLF) had a brilliant conversation with Demetrio Zema, Founder and Director at Law Squared. Law Squared works as a part of their clients’ teams, providing strategic advice and proactively managing their daily legal requirements. This gives their clients the opportunity to partner with lawyers of substance who are totally committed to their business’ success.
What are the top five values that underpin your day-to-day decisions and choices?
I have two key principles and rules in my life (personal and professional) and they are “Trust” and “Respect”. Each decision I make and interaction I have is based on these principles. More broadly, some of the key principles and values in my day to day include:
o Leadership and Mentoring
o Personal and Professional Growth
o Balance (personal and professional) – this is the toughest!
Do you think the traditional law firm as we know it will exist in 10 years’ time?
I certainly think that whilst there will be substantial shifts in the legal industry over the next 5-10 years, big law as we know it, is likely to remain and still exist in 10 years time. There are clients and certain types of work which will still require (and want) that traditional law firm and its service offering. Whilst I have no doubt it will diminish significantly, there will still be a place in the industry for the traditional model.
What kind of culture do you foster in your firm?
Culture is a key focus of mine and ensuring that all members of the Law Squared team. To me a good leader is accountable for creating and maintaining firm culture. A good leader must be the symbol of moral unity of the firm and live the values that hold that firm together. Most importantly, a good leader is responsible for conceiving and articulating goals that lift people out of their preoccupations, carry them above the conflicts that tear firm cultures apart and unite them in the pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts. As a new law player we have a strong strategic goal and plan and it is important each of the members of our team share the same outlook and positivity.
What are the highs and lows of working with start-ups and entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs by their very nature have high expectations of themselves and the team the build around them. Managing expectations is a critical part of the role we play as lawyers for our clients to ensure the timelines set and the outcomes which we seek to achieve are all streamlined. Daily we get to meet a number of founders with exciting and innovative ideas. However often many of them do not have the right support nor are equipped with all the right resources to allow them to execute their ideas into businesses. The benefits of having a network of service providers to refer clients to, and to help them realise their potential and growth is one of the best highs of working in this space.
Client experience is a strong foundation for your firm, how do you think changing client expectations are transforming the nature of legal services?
We are dedicated in our commitment to provide multi-dimensional holistic services to this unique clientele. Our approach is not of the ‘cookie-cutter’ kind; rather, our approach is different in that we offer a quasi-partnership to our clients. Indeed, we are certain in our resolve to provide a more authentic way for clients to engage with lawyers, which objective we seek to achieve by working closely as part of our clients’ teams, providing strategic advice to them and proactively managing their daily legal requirements. Our commitment to partnering with entrepreneurs and SMEs is not limited to those who have retained us; in fact, our commitment extends to the wider-public, as illustrated by the free-of-charge events we regularly host, which range from ‘social events’ to ‘legal seminars’. These points together, allow us to transform and change the conversation about lawyers and the value (or traditionally lack of) that lawyers add to a business.
You work in Sydney and Melbourne – are there differences between the 2 cities when it comes to innovation/business culture?
With offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, I am fortunate to be able to experience the start up and entrepreneur eco-system in each of those three cities and their respective states. Each are unique in their offering and in their advancement into innovation and embracing new technologies. Brisbane is quickly growing and substantial investment being made by the government of QLD to grow and harness creative and innovative businesses and they are building a great eco-system. Sydney is a more established eco system particularly in the fin-tech and general tech style businesses. The leading Venture Capital and Investment funds often call Sydney home. Melbourne has a bustling entrepreneur and innovation culture which is extremely supportive and collaborative. There are in my view differences in each of these cities.
Do you feel that universities are helping to mould the lawyers of the future? What should they be doing?
I stated in another interview recently that new law firms, such as Law Squared shows students that there are ways in which law can be practiced outside of the traditional framework in a more positive, productive, and rewarding environment.
Law Squared is one of the drivers of new-law in Australia and it is great to see our firm be recognised as a new law leader.
Students and universities should actively seek out the new law players and also some of the law tech market places which are providing new opportunities for young lawyers to practice law in a new and innovative way. Rather than focusing on the traditional trajectory from university to traineeship to the partner, universities should be supporting law students and graduates in opportunities in the non-traditional legal space.
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