Young lawyer Elle Belekas named finalist in the Law Society of NSW Awards

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Young lawyer at MinterEllison, Elle Belekas, has been named finalist in the ‘Early Career Lawyer of the Year’ category of the Law Society of NSW Awards.

The award recognises lawyers who have demonstrated great promise in their chosen field, as well as a commitment to supporting their peers within their first five years of practice.

The Greek Herald reached out to Elle to find out more about her career and ask her how it feels to be recognised as a finalist.

Congratulations on being named finalist in the Law Society of NSW Awards in the category ‘Early Career Lawyer of the Year.’ How does it feel to be recognised?

I feel very humbled to receive this recognition. It is an incredible honour and a testament to all the support and guidance that I have received from so many wonderful mentors to date. I constantly feel so inspired by my peers and clients, and I am motivated by the prospect of being able to make a positive contribution to the profession.

Elle Belekas.

What inspired you to get into the legal profession?

I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the legal profession from a very young age. My experience in debating and public-speaking over numerous years, involvement in the NSW Law Society’s Mock Trial competition as both a competitor and team coach, as well as my passion for writing, fostered my enthusiasm for viewing complex matters from different perspectives. These experiences coupled with my fascination for the impact of the law in everyday, practical contexts cumulatively underpinned my aspiration to study law. 

My enthusiasm for a legal career increased as I progressed through my Law and Commerce degrees. During my time at university, I was involved in various skills competitions such as mooting as both a competitor and judge, as well as client interviewing as a director of the competition. These opportunities further enabled me to recognise the enjoyment that I receive from problem-solving and exercising critical thinking particularly under time pressure. Through my role as an editor of the University of New South Wales Law Journal, I also developed a strong interest in legal jurisprudence.

Throughout my studies, I developed a passion for increasing the accessibility of the law, which led to my involvement in various outreach programs, through which I had the opportunity to speak with students at schools across regional NSW about their basic legal rights. These experiences all confirmed to me that I had made the right choice in pursuing a legal career.

Tell us a little bit about your legal career so far.

I started working in law firms from my first year of university, as I was immediately driven to combine my academic studies with hands-on, practical experience. This enabled me to gain five years’ legal experience prior to being formally admitted into the profession in June this year.

Prior to graduating, I had worked in a small firm, large corporate firms, as well as in-house with the general counsel of one of the world’s largest philanthropic organisations. Through these experiences, I was able to assist with matters across various fields, including corporate and commercial law, administrative law and dispute resolution for clients across diverse industries.

From very early on, I was afforded opportunities to exercise autonomy and responsibility, but to also work collaboratively with my colleagues and clients in respect of large-scale legal projects. I am currently a lawyer at MinterEllison, where I commenced my full-time role since completing my university studies.

Does your Greek heritage influence your work in any way?

I think that my Greek heritage has subconsciously given me a deeper appreciation for diversity, inclusivity and a strong work ethic. My grandfather, who arrived in Australia from Agrinio in Greece at only 16 years of age, has been a great role model to me and has always emphasised the value of hard work and education.

My early exposure to Greek as a second language fostered my broader interest in foreign languages and cultures. I have now subsequently also undertaken years of study in Latin and French.

What do you enjoy the most about your work? What are your future plans?

I thoroughly enjoy the fast-paced and intellectually stimulating nature of legal work. Every legal problem has its own nuances; there is rarely ever a clear-cut solution or path forward, and this makes the work all the more intriguing. I enjoy being challenged and thinking strategically to navigate complex problems and to contribute to developing commercially robust solutions. Being in a position to assist clients to reach a positive outcome is incredibly rewarding. I am also fortunate enough to work in a very collegiate, collaborative environment and to be surrounded by like-minded and supportive individuals.

As for future plans, I will continue to follow the journey and be guided by the advice of my peers and mentors along the way. I will keep challenging myself and striving to make a valuable contribution to the legal profession and community.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

If you are someone who is interested in pursuing a career in the legal profession, never underestimate the value in speaking with others within the legal community. There are so many wonderful people within the profession who would be very willing to offer their insights and advice.

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