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The College of Law Australia

Con Panagiotopoulos

Getting practical experience as soon as possible is important. You’ll get a feel for what you like and also what you’re good at.

What’s your name and job title?

My name is Con Panagiotopoulos and I am a lawyer in the General Counsel Team at the Australian Taxation Office in Melbourne.

What undergraduate degree did you study?

I studied a Bachelor of Commerce and Laws at Deakin University and I graduated at the end of 2015. 

Are you studying and working at the same time?

Not at the moment, although I did in 2016 when I completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice with The College of Law. 

What are some of your highlights or milestones in regards to schooling, education and so forth?

  • Graduating from secondary school and successfully completing VCE;
  • Being able to travel often with both family and friends whilst studying; 
  • Working alongside a barrister (and great mentor) during my degree;
  • Graduating from Deakin University with honours;
  • Completing a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice with The College of Law;
  • Being admitted into legal practice and the legal profession; and
  • Working in my current role as a general counsel lawyer. 

What made you decide to progress with further study?

I wanted to build on my undergraduate qualifications, become admitted, and work as a practicing lawyer.

How did you choose your particular further study course? Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

I chose to complete a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice with The College of Law. The College has a great reputation and the course I selected contained both face-to-face and online components. By completing much of the course online, I was able to balance working as a barrister’s clerk/research assistant and continue to seek other opportunities in anticipation of being admitted. Before settling on law, I also considered careers in both teaching and aviation.

What was the process to get accepted into your course? Were there any prerequisites?

The process was quite straightforward – the only prerequisite was the successful completion of an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws degree.

What did your study involve? Can you describe a particular day?

The course itself was varied as I had the ability to choose my own electives to tailor the course according to my preferences. To give you an idea as to how wide-reaching the course was, on any given day I could be reviewing an ethical dilemma, completing a conveyance, advising on the sale/purchase of a business, devising a will for a client and drafting pleadings.  

What characteristics or skills did you gain by completing your course?

Completing the course has allowed me to develop practical legal skills such as advocacy, presenting legal arguments and drafting legal documents. 

Has this course been beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here?

Completing this course has already benefited me and my career. The completion of this course led to my admission into the profession and has ultimately led to me securing work as an admitted lawyer. 

What did you love most about your course?

I enjoyed being able to complete the course and work at the same time. This allowed me to practice time management and continue to gain professional legal experience whilst becoming further qualified.
 

Were there any limitations?

The inherent trade-off with the flexibility offered by a largely online course is the lack of one-on-one interaction. In saying this, the college overcame this limitation by offering online students the opportunity to make appointments (in person) with their lecturers at any time.

What are three pieces of advice that you would give to a current undergraduate student?

  1. Seek legal experience – I know this is easier said than done, but there is no doubt the legal industry is a competitive one. Getting practical experience as soon as possible is important. You'll get a feel for what you like and also, what you're good at. Plus, you never know what opportunities may present themselves in these interactions. 
  2. Get a mentor – It’s important to get advice and ask questions of someone who has been there and done it. Often, a mentor will come from a place where you have gained experience (see 1). 
  3. Travel – Make the most of your extended university holidays!