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What matters more—your law school GPA or work experience?

This is what many law students and would-be law students often wonder about when it comes to getting a job in the legal industry. After all, law school life involves balancing mountains of paperwork and readings with other demands for your time.

So which one should you prioritize? Are you better off going for a 1L, or spending your time getting a rounded CV and sacrifice your GPA?

That will depend on some factors.

Why Good Grades Matter

At an early age, parents and teachers underscore the long-term benefits of getting good grades. “Study hard,” they say, and you won’t spend your life “flipping burgers” (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

In law school, getting good grades is certainly important. There are certain jobs you can only land if you have excellent grades, such as Supreme Court clerkships, Big Law jobs, and other related government opportunities.

But while academic achievement is certainly important, it’s not the be-all and the end-all of reaching that first huge step on the corporate ladder.

Why Work Experience Matters, Too

Grades will only get you so far, even if they’re excellent, and even if you get that rare 1L grade from a prestigious law school. You may get the highest grade on your exam in Property I—but lawyering is more than that. Practicing attorneys spend the majority of their day meeting with clients, talking to an opposing party in a particular case, and doing other things that do not involve studying for an exam or writing some legal analysis.

So if your plan is to tread the path to becoming an attorney, go for experience.

Depending on the specific industry you’re planning to go to, work experience can jump-start your career. You might get sent to court, or be given the reigns on a case. These things are skills you acquire not by highlighting pages of a book, but through experience.

Overall, grades and work experience are both important. Between classes, studying, sleeping, finding work, and free time, however, we all know it’s difficult to work on both. The secret to getting the best of both worlds is good time management—if you practice this, everything will pay off in the long run.

At The Center For Legal Studies, we offer preparatory courses that can help you in your law school journey. The best thing about our courses is that you can enroll in our Online or Independent Study programs, which can potentially save you a huge amount of time. So enroll today.