Prioritising law degree vs. work

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24 June 2019
Hi everyone! Brand new member here hoping to get some advice.
So I'm in my first year of undergrad law, having transferred after doing Arts for a year. I also recently became possibly the luckiest law student in the world and got a job working with the in-house legal team of a pretty big company (I swear I'm not just bragging, this is going somewhere!!). My main job is just scanning stuff, but I also help out the paralegal with a lot of her work and the general counsel has talked about eventually training me up to be able to work as a paralegal.
I'm so aware that this is an absolutely amazing opportunity I've been given, but I am wondering if anyone had advice on how I should prioritise now. Everyone always says that experience matters far more than grades, but how much? Should I try and work more to get as much experience possible and be the best employee I can be at this place at the expense of my grades, or should I still try to do better than just passing if it means not performing the best I can at work? Which would be more helpful for me in the long run? (If it changes things, I don't have much actual interest in business and construction law, which is all I'm doing at work).
Thank you so much in advance for any help!

Rob Legat - SBPL

LawTap Verified
16 February 2017
Gold Coast, Queensland
I studied externally while working full time as an articled law clerk. The practical experience you pick up is invaluable. Once you graduate, you miss a lot of the little jobs and connections that a fundamentally important.

Tim W

LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
1. Go you.

2. My first advice would be this - stop using Americanisms.
For example - to your university, you are an undergraduate, not an "undergrad".
To people in the real world, outside the university context, you are a "law student".
Further, you are studying law at university, not "going to Law School".
Even if the Faculty of Law at your university is called the "<Wherever> Law School".
And they're "marks", not "grades".

3. What to prioritise - marks. And not just because I'm a law academic.
Law recruiting is now done largely by practitioners* of the pseudo-profession of "Human Resources".
In this context, marks matter more than, and ahead of, how good you are at e-discovery or whatever.
Existing skills is something that comes out later in the recruitment process.

4. Forget having a life for the next four years.
Immerse yourself in the academic work and in the university experience.

* My preferred term for these people is
"skull drilling, brain sapping, parasites",
but I'm trying to be nice.
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