Thanks for this post! As someone looking to apply to the UK Civil Service in the future, it's really useful to have a resource like this :)
One question I have is whether you have a sense of the value of a Master's program in public policy. In particular, are you aware of many/any positions where having a Master's is either required or would significantly increase the chances of a successful application?
No problem :)
Again I'll just flag I'm happy to have a call to discuss this with you!
2: I think it varies between law schools and my impression is Usyd might be just particularly harsh marks wise. For what it's worth, undergrad and JD students are marked together at Usyd. 12% getting HD's seem high to me (I think Usyd is minimum 1% and max 5%?) but sounds like that's just an exception to the norm. Also, I agree that philosophy is a great background (it is also mine!) though I have found I personally work about twice as hard for law and receive a grade on average marks 10 lower.
3: Yep, I'm in undergrad. I've always aimed to work in the US/UK and have only recently been looking into Aus options, so my views aren't very informed/considered. For what it's worth, I have applied to a few jobs (e.g. UK Fast Stream) with the intention of not finishing my law degree if I was accepted. I probably would at least consider the APS grad streams in the situation you suggest.
As for your last question, I think that it's very likely that if you're particularly suited for law and enthusiastic about it (which it sounds like you are) that there will be ways of using the vocation to have an impact in your career. Within Australia, for example, working for the ALRC seems very promising. I personally doubt those options would be in corporate law (aside from earning to give) or criminal law. Given those are the standard paths, I'd strongly encourage having a think about what the more impactful careers might be so that you can plan for them early on and not get swept up by the conventional route.
I'm currently studying law at Usyd with the intention of going into policy. Very happy to have a call if you think that would help! Just send through a message :)
I don't have work experience in government, nor do I have much sense of what an MPP involves or how they are viewed, but I do have a few thoughts/bits of information that might help:
I hope that helps!