Graduate Profile: George Calligeros

George Calligeros

Name: George Calligeros

What degree/s did you study (and year of completion)?
I graduated from Sydney Uni in 2009 with a combined Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and International Business).

Where do you currently work (sector/organisation) and what is your position title? Please include a brief description of your work.
I am currently a Lawyer at K&L Gates (formerly Middletons), a large full service commercial law firm. I am involved in large scale commercial litigation, representing a diverse range of corporate clients primarily in the construction and renewable electricity generation industries.

Describe a typical day/week in your role. What do you enjoy most about your work?
In my role as a junior lawyer, working as part of an experienced litigation team, my day-to-day work depends on what stage of the litigation process we are in. A typical week can involve anything from case and client document management, strategy meetings with clients and barristers, to court appearances.

At the moment, I am enjoying the increased responsibility that comes with gaining experience in the profession. I also enjoy the strategising and excitement that comes with ardently representing our client's interests in any dispute – factors that initially sparked my interest in becoming a litigator.

What are some of the biggest challenges in your current role?
One of the biggest, yet most rewarding, challenges of the job is the progression of my professional development. There is the constantly evolving law to keep on top of, as well as developing the wide ambit of skills that not only provide the foundations for becoming a well-rounded litigator, but also a trusted adviser for our clients.

Can you give a summary of your career journey so far? How did you get started in your career? What recruitment processes did you go through? What has been the highlight of your career to date?
In my last few years at uni, I began to dip my toe in the legal industry through part-time work as a registration clerk and paralegal in a number of law firms. This was a great way of getting an early taste of the industry and deciding on whether it was a career path I would like to embark on.

In my penultimate year at law school, I applied for and was offered a Summer Clerkship at Middletons - a brief full-time stint at a law firm over the uni holidays. This led to an offer of a Graduate role which I took up following the completion of my law degree. The Graduate program consisted of 3 four month rotations through various practice groups throughout the firm. This allowed me to find an area of law I was interested in, and I have been working as a Lawyer in Litigation & Dispute Resolution for the past 2 years now. Following Middletons merger with K&L Gates, I am now part of a global firm with 47 offices across 5 continents!

The most memorable highlight of my career so far is my admission as a Solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. It represented the culmination of a long road of studying and was proof that it was all worthwhile.

Which skills are highly valued by employers in your field? In your experience, what are the qualities of successful candidates e.g. relevant work experience, specific degree or industry qualification, specific skills, networks, extracurricular involvement?
In terms of potential job candidates, I think law firms are looking mainly for well-rounded individuals. Intelligence and solid university results are obviously important, but in such a competitive industry good marks alone are not going to set you apart. Attention to detail and written and oral communication skills have always been things I have focused on as a lawyer. Knowledge of the industry, diverse interests and being yourself are skills and attributes that are valued in any job interview. After all, employers are looking for someone that they want as a workmate, and are willing to collaborate with every day.

What are your top three tips for university students wishing to enter your field of work? e.g. networking, postgraduate study

  • Develop legal skills wherever possible, including part-time work in the industry as well as university competitions such as mooting and interview skills.
  • Be knowledgeable about the industry and the firm you are interviewing at.
  • Be yourself and confident about what you can contribute to a potential employer.

Are there any myths associated with your industry that you would like to debunk?
While lawyers do work hard, work-life balance is possible! You just need to choose the firm that is right for you. Plus, lawyer jokes are wildly inaccurate.

How do you manage the balance in your life?
Managing work-life balance is not always easy, but it is definitely possible. For me, I try to enjoy the quieter periods in my job. The ebbs and flows of litigation mean that a busy few weeks/months is always just around the corner. It is also good to have a schedule that includes some down-time doing things you enjoy. For me, I am involved in a few social sports teams, which is a commitment that pulls me away from work at least a couple of nights a week. Can't let the team down!

How do you keep current in your field? (e.g. professional development, membership of professional associations, conferences, networks)
I am lucky in that K&L Gates provides an extensive Learning & Development Program in-house. This not only allows me to fulfil my professional development requirements mandated by the Law Society, but exposes me to areas of law that I might not encounter in my day to day job.