Law Society Journal: Six Minutes With Demetrio Zema

Our founder Demetrio Zema was recently interviewed by Law Society Journal. Read the story below.


By Law Society Journal

Six Minutes With Demetrio Zema.
Founder & Director, Law Squared

A champion of “NewLaw”, Zema decided to combine his entrepreneurial instincts with his legal background and in 2016 founded Law Squared, a new-gen law firm, in Melbourne. It quickly expanded and now includes teams in Sydney and Brisbane. Before founding the firm Zema, now aged 29, worked in litigation at Logie- Smith Lanyon Lawyers and Ligeti Partners. He holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Bachelor of International Relations from La Trobe University. He is also a board member for the Victorian Deaf Society and the Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Why did you go into law?

I originally wanted to be a diplomat. I studied international relations at uni but wanted a broader education, so I decided to do a law degree as well. While I was applying for the DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) program, I decided to do my legal traineeship then got a job as an insurance litigator and ended up sticking with law.

Why did you decide to start a legal firm?

I come from a business-related family and had already started a number of businesses. As a lawyer, I struggled with the notion of traditional law and the trajectory it bestows upon us all. I got to a point in my career where I wanted something different and thought, “Well, I am a good lawyer and an entrepreneur, so why not blend the two?”

How is Law Squared different to a traditional firm?

In philosophy and in mindset. For starters, we focus on outcomes rather than numbers. In a normal firm there is a focus on daily numbers, which dictates what the firm makes. That leads to a mindset that equates hours with outcome, which may not be as efficient, productive and effective as it can be. By removing the element of numbers, solicitors can focus on outcomes – just because you are hitting numbers doesn’t mean you are doing well at your job.

Our billing models include a number of fee-for-service packages. Many of our clients are entrepreneurs, often seeking investment. We help make them investor ready. Most of our options are really designed for new businesses, seed or self-funded start-ups and SMEs. We also offer retainer-based services.

Other differences?

We give our lawyers input and control over client management, outcomes and setting their own agendas. Everybody has the same opportunities; it leads to more autonomy at an earlier age.

We also have more of a flat rather than a traditional hierarchical management structure.

Starting out, we researched what most people didn’t like about lawyers, which was: they are inefficient, expensive and bad communicators. We pride ourselves on being the opposite and having a positive relationship with our clients.

Has the youthfulness of your staff created any challenges with potential clients?

Most of our client base are entrepreneurs aged 26-36 the same age as most of our lawyers, which means they resonate with team. Age isn’t an issue. We do have older clients, but they also relate to a much younger, proactive style of thinking.

Biggest challenge?

There’s a lot of noise about disruption and innovation in the legal space at the moment, which has created some confusion in the marketplace. There are some new legal platforms and artificial intelligence solutions, but only a few legal firms are really championing this new internal change. There needs to be a better understanding about where each of these different models sits in the market.

This article written by Law Society Journal, was first published in issue 33 June 2017.

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