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Unit of study_

LAWS2013: The Legal Profession

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

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
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Rita Shackel,
Lecturer(s) Rita Shackel,
Irene Baghoomians,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignment 1
Case Study and Reflection
40% Week 05
Due date: 01 Apr 2021 at 14:00

Closing date: 20 Apr 2021
Maximum 2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO5 LO7
Assignment Assignment 2
Research Essay
60% Week 13
Due date: 31 May 2021 at 14:00

Closing date: 28 Jun 2021
Maximum 3500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

To satisfy the requirements of this unit of study students are required to attempt and submit both assignments.

Assignment 1: written assignment (worth 40%). Details of this assignment will be provided to students via Canvas in Week 1 of semester. This assignment will be based on a case study and will require students to engage in reflective writing and analysis.

Assignment 2: written assignment (worth 60%). Details of this assignment will be provided to students via Canvas in Week 5 of semester. This assignment is a research essay and will require students to undertake in depth research, critical analysis and present a cohesive and well argued written paper in response to a question.

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:

A student who has not obtained an extension by applying successfully for Special Consideration will be penalised for late submission of written work at a rate of 5% of the total mark for the assignment per day or part-day (including weekends and public holidays). Penalties for late submission will be strictly applied with no grace-period.

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 Class (a): Introduction to the Legal profession Unit of Study and Legal Ethics Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7
Class (b): Legal Culture and Approaches to Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO7
Week 02 Class (a): Diversity and the Role of Lawyers Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7
Class (b): Legal Needs, Access to Justice and Delivery of Legal Services in Australia Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Class (a): The Regulatory Framework in Australia Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Class (b): Legal Education - Pre and Post Admission to the Profession 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Week 04 Class (a): Legal Education - Pre and Post Admission to the Profession 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Class (b): Communication and Interviewing Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Week 07 Week (a): The Professional Conduct Rules and Fundamental Duties of Lawyers - Duties to the Court and the Administration of Justice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Week (b): The Professional Conduct Rules and Fundamental Duties of Lawyers - Duties of Representation and the Lawyer-Client Relationship Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Week 08 Class (a): Confidentiality and Client Legal Privilege Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Class (b): Conflicts of Interest Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Week 09 Class (a): Duties in Specific Areas of Practice 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7
Class (b): Duties in Specific Areas of Practice 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7
Week 10 Class (a): Complaints and Discipline 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Class (b): Complaints and Discipline 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Week 11 Class (a): Competence, Liability and Immunity Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Class (b): Technology and the Future of Legal Services, Lawyering and the Legal Profession Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 12 Class (a): Law Practice Management and Managing Legal Work Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7
Class (b): Conclusion and Overview Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: There is a 70% attendance requirement in this unit of study, which will be strictly applied. This requirement may be satisfied via in person or online attendance consistent with a student’s class enrolment.  Failure to meet this requirment may result in a student receiving a Fail grade.  Please contact the unit of study Convenor, Professor Rita Shackel, to discuss any attendance related issues.


  • Word count: The total word-count for written work excludes the title-page, citations in footnotes and any bibliography, but includes everything else, such as headings, sub-headings, quotations and, even if it does not seem substantive, anything other than citations in footnotes. Failure to comply with the word-limit is penalised at a rate of 5% of the total mark for the assignment for every 100 words in excess of the limit.


  • Referencing: When citing material in written work, students should rely consistently on an accepted method, such as that specified in the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018). For legal referencing help, use this link to the library website: .


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

There is no textbook in this unit of study. 

The prescribed readings are available online either via the Web or library databases/e-reserve.

A detailed reading guide is available on Canvas.

Students are expected to access and read the prescribed readings prior to attending each class and come prepared to engage in class discussion and class activities.

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 and explain the source, nature and meaning of lawyers' essential professional obligations
  • LO3. identify and address professional and ethical issues in legal practice and in the delivery of legal services
  • LO4. describe the standards and processes for holding lawyers accountable for their professional behaviour
  • LO5. explain and evaluate the impact of technology and other societal changes on lawyering, the legal profession and the legal services marketplace
  • LO6. conduct original legal research, and engage in detailed critical analysis of legal, policy and law reform materials
  • LO7. 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.

The teachers welcome student feedback on this unit of study.


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.