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Unit of study_

LAWS2013: The Legal Profession

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The Legal Profession Unit of Study is a mandatory �Priestley 11' subject. We critically examine issues relevant to lawyers' role in society: professionalism, lawyers' conduct, lawyers' ethical obligations and choices, and the regulation of legal services. We examine the nature of legal professionalism and its inherent relationship with ethics, values and morals, as well as its relationship with commerce. We explore the shifting profile of the profession, the response of the profession to these demographic changes, and the major cultural and economic forces that operate on legal professionalism and regulation of the profession. From that base we analyse access to justice issues, different notions of lawyering, the structure of the legal profession, and diverse theoretical views and models of regulation. We move on to consider the lawyer-client relationship and strategies to facilitate equality and effective communication in the delivery of legal services. Finally, we examine lawyers' duties to clients and the Court, and the ways in which the rules and principles of confidentiality and conflicts of interest affect the advice and representation lawyers provide for clients. This unit of study requires your active participation in class discussion, and your critical reflection on the issues raised throughout the semester.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS2013
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
LAWS1001 or LAWS3002 or LAWS3004 or LAWS5009
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Simon Rice,
Lecturer(s) Sascha Callaghan,
Irene Baghoomians,
Scarlet Wilcock,
Graham Carson,
Philip Pomfret,
Lucy Quinn,
Pallavi Sinha,
Simon Rice,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Research essay
Research essay
30% Week 06
Due date: 03 Apr 2020 at 12:00
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Assignment Court activity and reflection
A plea or bail presentation, and written reflection
20% Week 09
Due date: 27 Apr 2020 at 12:00
5 minute video upload + 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO3 LO2
Assignment Take-home assignment
Problem scenarios
50% Week 14 (STUVAC)
Due date: 01 Jun 2020 at 12:00
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4 LO3

Assessment summary

  1. Research essay, worth 30%, from a choice of topics
  2. Plea/bail reflection, worth 20%, in which a script for a plea or bail application is written in response a client’s instructions, and a short written work reflects on personal responsdes to the ethical issues raised
  3. Take-home assignment, worth 50% in which a number of problem scenarios raise ethical issues to be identified and resolved.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Contains striking originality of approach or analysis.
  • Demonstrates exhaustive or innovative research (where independent research required).
  • Exceptionally well written, structured and expressed.
  • Is otherwise exceptional in some way.


75 - 84

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Achieves a critical and evaluative approach to the issues.
  • Content and structure is well organised in support of the argument.
  • Demonstrates extensive research and analysis to support a well-documented argument.
  • Generally well expressed and free from errors.
  • Has a clear structure and is well articulated.


65 - 74

  • Covers main issues fairly well in answering the question.
  • Contains no significant errors.
  • Demonstrates an attempted critical approach to the issues.
  • Demonstrates reasonably sound research and analysis in addressing the key issues.
  • Has a clear structure and reasonably clear expression.


50 - 64

  • Identifies the key issues, but does not follow through with a reasoned argument.
  • Contains some significant errors.
  • Displays satisfactory engagement with the key issues.
  • Offers a descriptive summary of material relevant to the question.
  • Superficial use of material, and may display a tendency to paraphrase.
  • Demonstrates little evidence of in-depth research or analysis.
  • Adequate expression.
  • Overall, demonstrates the minimum level of competence in the assessment and satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies in the degree or subject area.


0 - 49

  • Does not answer the question.
  • Contains significant or numerous errors.
  • Few or no identifiable arguments.
  • Content that is inappropriate or irrelevant.
  • Lack of research or analysis.
  • Difficult or impossible to understand through poor grammar, expression or structure.
  • Overall, does not demonstrate the minimum level of competence in the assessment.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The late submission of a piece of assessment, which has not been granted an extension prior to the due date, will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment if it is up to 24 hours late, 20% if it is 24-48 hours late, and 30% if it is 48-72 hours late. A piece of assessment submitted more than 72 hours late without an extension will not be marked and will be awarded a fail grade.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to legal ethics Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Approaches to legal ethics Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 The future of lawyering and lawyers Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Legal organisational culture and diversity Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Regulation of the legal profession Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Admission to practice Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 04 Duties to the court Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Duties to the client Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 05 Duty of confidentiality Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Client legal privilege Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 06 Conflict of duty and interests Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Conflict of duties of loyalty Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 08 Plea exercise Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Plea exercise Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 Duties in specific areas of practice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Costs, and duty to account Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 11 Lawyers' misconduct Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Disciplinary proceedings Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 12 Tortious liability; advocates’ immunity Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Review and revision Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: See Canvas for details. 
  • Word count: If a piece of assessment exceeds the prescribed limit for the task, only the text within the limit will be read and assessed; the excess part will not be read. If a word count is set, it will: exclude: bibliography, footnote numbers, footnote citations, and any cover page, and will include: body text, headings and sub-headings, quotations, and anything other than numbers and citations in footnotes.
  • Referencing: You will be required to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting for the research essay, but not for the reflection or the take-home assignment.  You will receive a more detailed guide to referencing requirements in the assessment instructions. For legal referencing help, use this link to the library website: .

With the move to online delivery the Law School attendance requirement no longer applies. Students should refer to Canvas for details of class engagement in individual units of study.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

  • Prescribed text: John Littrich and Karina Murray, Lawyers in Australia, The Federation Press, Sydney, 2019
  • Additional weekly readings will be listed on Canvas and available through the Library eReserve.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. talk knowledgeably about the roles that lawyers play in enabling access to justice
  • LO2. know the source, nature and meaning of lawyers' essential professional obligations
  • LO3. identify and address a professional ethical issue in legal practice
  • LO4. describe the standards and processes for holding lawyers accountable for their professional behaviour
  • LO5. conduct original legal research, and engage in a critical analysis of legal materials
  • LO6. engage in reflective practice.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

An optional class participation mark is now available.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.