UAlberta Law gold medallist credits success to work ethic he learned from skilled trades

Patrick Schembri awarded the 2020 Horace Harvey Medal in Law

Sarah Kent - 12 June 2020

Patrick Schembri, ‘20 JD, is not afraid of hard work, and the discipline he learned while working in skilled trades has helped earn him the 2020 Horace Harvey Medal, the University of Alberta Faculty of Law’s most prestigious accolade for a graduating JD student.

“I had some idea I would be in the running, but I was surprised,” said Schembri. “I am very happy and honoured to receive it.”

Informally known as the gold medal, the Horace Harvey Medal recognizes the graduating student who has received the highest grade point average throughout their three years in the JD program. With the gold medal, Schembri also receives the Mr. Justice WG Morrow Memorial Prize.

Following his first undergraduate degree at Brock University, Schembri began an apprenticeship in industrial HVACR.

“The work ethic that the skilled trades gave me, going to trade school at night and on the weekends while working full time, gave me an advantage in terms of general discipline,” said Schembri. “That really translated into the success I’ve had so far.”

That work ethic carried Schembri far as he is no stranger to recognition for his academic success. Schembri decided to go back to school and enrolled at York University, where he received the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence for achieving the highest overall grade point average in the final year of his political science program. He graduated summa cum laude.

While at UAlberta Law, Schembri has racked up a number of accolades for his outstanding academic achievements, including the Honourable Mr. Justice Arnold F Moir Scholarship, the Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP Scholarship, the Professor Trevor Anderson Prize in Jurisprudence, and the Dr. Alexander Smith Q.C. Prize in the Subject of Contracts.

For Schembri, achieving the gold medal involved long hours studying on the second floor of the John A Weir Law Library. His academic success at UAlberta Law came down to “patience and hard work,” said Schembri.

Outside the classroom, Schembri was involved with Student Legal Services and served on the editorial board of the Alberta Law Review, a peer-reviewed, student-run journal.

Schembri spent his summers working for in-house counsel at major companies, and he looks forward to practicing at a law firm. He will be articling at Bennett Jones LLP in Calgary, where he can’t wait to “build on the strong foundation in the law that the professors at the U of A encouraged me to develop, by working for the exceptional lawyers at Bennett Jones.”

“I wish the best for all of my colleagues at the U of A,” said Schembri. “Learning from my peers has been critical to my studies, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them.”