Interview | Alex Lia (Lexicon Law)

Alex Lia is the Founder of Lexicon Law.  Established in 2014, Lexicon Law is a student-run legal services firm that offers summaries of subpoenaed documents from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia in Melbourne. Its services promote access to justice, as they are particularly useful to rural and regional lawyers who would otherwise be forced to send staff to Melbourne or pay lawyers in Melbourne to inspect the files. Alex Lia first noticed this problem working as a legal assistant in Ballarat.  One of our amazing Victorian Executive committee members, Bori Ahn, was delighted to chat to Alex.

What inspired you to found Lexicon Law?

I first noticed that there was a gap in the legal services industry after my first year of law school. I was 19 and had temporarily moved back to my hometown of Ballarat to work as a paralegal over the summer university break. I realised that many of the local firms and sole practitioners were sending their junior lawyers or administrative staff to Melbourne to inspect subpoenaed documents. Alternatively, they were paying Melbourne-based lawyers to inspect documents at considerable expense.

It occurred to me that this was a task that students are well equipped to do and it would make far more sense for Melbourne-based students to inspect the documents instead. It was this realisation that inspired me to found Lexicon Law, a student-run legal services firm that offers a time and cost-effective service to country lawyers. Since 2014, our dedicated paralegals have inspected subpoenaed documents for lawyers from every region in Victoria.

How did you manage studying the law and running a business?

Admittedly, this was a bit of a balancing act. Add volunteering, a few internships and a part time job as a researcher into the mix and you have yourself a real challenge! Of course, this dilemma isn’t unique to me. Most law students these days seem to juggle a number of different commitments alongside their studies. I found that being super duper organised, prioritising tasks and keeping on top of deadlines was key. Equally important was scheduling quality time to catch up with family and friends, getting outdoors and exercising, eating brunch and playing with my dog… balance is everything.

What’s a surprising lesson you learned from starting up Lexicon Law?

The most surprising lesson I learned from starting my own small business is that if you have a new and innovative solution to a problem, there will always be someone who thinks it’s a pretty average idea and if you listen to them, you probably won’t ever get anything done. Certainly, it’s important to acknowledge valid concerns and take on board constructive and meaningful advice. However, when someone is simply dismissive of your idea without offering suggestions for improvement, the best thing you can do is remain confident that you know you're onto something.

How do you ensure the summaries are accurate, succinct, and pertinent?

We ensure that the inspection reports we produce are relevant and comprehensive by recruiting students with strong analytical stills and meticulous attention to detail. Also, the value of proof reading can never be underestimated.

What’s a key skill students and early career professionals should learn?

Enterprise skills. These are the kinds of skills that are often not taught at university, but rather are gained by pursuing creative ideas, seizing opportunities and being resourceful. Law firms and other businesses are increasingly looking to recruit young people with commercial awareness, proven problem solving capacity and a tendency to think strategically. These attributes do not necessarily have to have been displayed through an entrepreneurial endeavour; demonstrating enterprise skills within the workplace is equally as useful and attractive to future employers.

What are your recommendations to those who want to help improve access to justice in Victoria and in Australia?

There are many fantastic initiatives being led by students and young professionals that are making an impact in this area. A great example of innovative thinking in action is ANIKA, an online platform and not-for-profit created by a group of young lawyers who aspire to make legal advice more accessible whilst also advancing the education and social awareness of law students. Learning about and supporting initiatives such as this is a great first step towards improving access to justice in Australia. I am also a strong advocate for volunteering for your local community legal centre or a reputable charity that works with vulnerable community members.

Where to next for Lexicon Law?

Much of Lexicon Law’s appeal can be attributed to the fact that it is student owned and operated, and I hope to keep it that way. Given I am about to graduate from university and will be admitted as a lawyer in the not too distant future, there are some necessary (but exciting) changes in store in the coming months. Stay tuned! 

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