Five minutes with…Bill Papastergiadis, Moray & Agnew

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Bill Papastergiadis, the managing partner of the Moray & Agnew Melbourne office, will be a speaker at Australasian Lawyer’s Contract Law Masterclass: He explains his background and passions.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
In Year 10, I was given the opportunity to have work experience in a law firm with an Articled Clerk who fortunately for me - maybe not so much for him - took me under his wing.  I really looked up to him, he taught me a lot and I was in that firm for two summers in a row.  He inspired me to become a lawyer and he really exposed me to the opportunity to see what I could aspire to become in a profession.

How long have you worked at Moray & Agnew for and what brought you to your position?
I moved over to Moray & Agnew to a team of 30, seven years ago.  Since then the office has grown 400% and nationally the firm is growing at a rate of knots while maintaining an incredibly low staff turnover rate.  We are lucky to have been able to build an amazing team of talented people and we work hard to keep them.
 
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2014?
I think the biggest issue facing the legal profession is staff and lawyer burnout. Law firms are full of high-achieving individuals and the pressure is constant for this to be the case in everything they do.  It’s no secret that the legal profession has one of the highest levels of depression and studies done have revealed the incidence of depressive symptoms amongst lawyers and law students has reached alarming levels. It’s incumbent upon the leaders of firms to provide an environment that sustains lawyers and staff, encouraging them to be emotionally, physically and psychologically healthy.  This will keep people in the profession and also keeps character intact.
 
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
A defamation case known as ‘the corpse that talks’. A man was alleged to have killed somebody and then after that was reported in the press, the alleged killer became a target himself.  I think this says it all!!

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A surfer…albeit not a good one.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
If you want revenge, dig two graves – one for you and one for the other person. There is a lot of time and effort wasted on unnecessary initiatives in law that may give people an initial sense of satisfaction but in the long run, generally nobody really wins.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
My family gives me my greatest sense of accomplishment and keeps me grounded. My other passions are my heritage and community involvement.  As president of the Greek community in Melbourne (the largest Greek community outside of Greece), I represent my culture in Australia and overseas.  I am proud of the fact that we recently built a 15 storey Hellenic Cultural Centre – the largest of its kind in the world. I am also a Director of the South Melbourne Football Club, recently awarded by FIFA as the Oceania Football Club of the Century. Watching my kids play soccer is incredibly rewarding.

What do you love about your job?
Client satisfaction.  Building relationships and friendships broadens my world and my view of it.  Problem solving for clients is particularly satisfying.  Working through a problem with a client and providing them with a solution to something that is really bothering them is definitely satisfying.

You are speaking at Australasian Lawyer’s Contract Law Masterclass next March. Why is your session important?
Because the law still matters. I will be covering managing risk and liability through indemnities. 
 
The Contract Law Masterclass will be held in Sydney and Melbourne in March 2015. Find out more and register online here.

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