From an early age, Agape Lioulios was surrounded by successful, independent women, and she knew she wanted to be one of these women herself when she grew up.  

Agape’s mother, who ran a private practice as a psychologist, passed away when she was just 18. Soon after, Agape began an Arts degree at ANU, majoring in International Relations, Political Science and Philosophy.

With Australian-Greek dual citizenship and growing up in Canberra, Agape considered a career in the public sector to be a natural progression, and thought about options such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and the UN.  

Over time, however, she realised that her true passion lay not with international relations, but with the areas of mental health, justice and the law.  

After completing her Arts degree, Agape began a Juris Doctor (JD). Then in 2016, she moved to Sydney and continued her JD at UNSW.  

“I chose UNSW because it was a perfect fit for me due to the flexibility of the degree, which allowed me to work full-time during the day and study full-time in the evenings at the CBD campus – while at the same time attending a university renowned for its first-class education,” she says.  

While this sounds like a lot to take on all at once in a new city, Agape believes that by planning ahead, even large goals like this can feel achievable.  

“I started by studying part-time in the evenings and eventually increased my workload to three subjects a semester in addition to a Summer course as I became more comfortable and confident with my time management and study skills,” she says.  

“My advice to students is to start slowly and increase your workload to what’s manageable for you.”

Despite her busy schedule, Agape says that a highlight of her time at UNSW was taking part in a range of student societies and volunteer programs.  

Last year, she served as JD Mentoring Director on the UNSW Law Society Executive, where she helped facilitate a peer-run mentoring program that assisted new JD students adjust to the demands of law school.  

According to Agape, the university experience for postgraduate law students can be very different to that of undergraduate students.  

She encourages JD students to have confidence in their place at university and to make the most of any mentoring and co-curricular opportunities that arise.  

“There’s a myth, not often spoken about, that if you don’t study Law as an undergraduate, then you may not be smart enough to succeed in law school or as a lawyer,” she says.  

“I have met and mentored various prospective and current JD students who are incredibly intelligent and extremely capable but have experienced ‘imposter syndrome’ as a result of this myth.  

“Trust your instincts, seek sound and well-informed advice, and surround yourself with people who support you and help you to achieve your goals.”  

As well as her role as Mentoring Director, Agape volunteered with Student Minds @ UNSW, a mental health outreach program that shares knowledge and skills with students to contribute to their success, wellbeing and resilience.  

She says that her involvement in these programs has been invaluable for both her personal and professional development, especially when the time came to apply for Summer clerkships.

Following her academic successes, Agape now works full-time as a Law Clerk at Clayton Utz and will commence a Graduate position there in 2019 after she is admitted as a lawyer at the end of this year.   

Despite the challenges she has faced in recent years, she has held firm to her passion and drive. To her younger self, Agape says: “You’re doing a great job. You are strong, and through all the adversity, just know that you will make it through because you believe in yourself and will become even stronger for it.”