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Unit of study_

LAWS2013: The Legal Profession

Intensive December, 2022 [Block mode] - 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. We critically analyse access to justice issues, different notions of lawyering, the structure of the legal profession, and diverse theoretical views and models of regulation. We consider the lawyer-client relationship and strategies to facilitate equality and effective communication in the delivery of legal services. 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 Lucy Quinn,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Group Presentation
15% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment Short Release Interim Assignment
Case Study & Reflection
25% Week 03
Due date: 08 Dec 2022 at 09:00

Closing date: 15 Dec 2022
1500 words / 10 calendar days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO7
Assignment Short Release Final Assignment
60% Week 05
Due date: 19 Dec 2022 at 09:00

Closing date: 26 Dec 2022
3000 words / 5 calendar days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Assessment summary

Group presentation (15%)

Students will be required to work together in groups of up to 6 students. Each group will be assigned a particular topic covered in class, in relation to which they will need to:

  • Prepare a presentation of up to 15 minutes on a question/prompt/instructions of the lecturer. For the purposes of the presentation students will be required to draw on materials set for class and materials found by way of independent research.
  • Submit a document of up to 2 pages setting out 5 key resources identified by way of independent research and a brief statement as to their relevance to the topic.
  • Be familiar with the readings set for the topic and prepared to actively contribute to class discussion in relation to that topic.

In the absence of significant and compelling reasons suggesting it is inappropriate in the circumstances, all students in a group will receive the same mark for this piece of assessment. Whether or not significant and compelling reasons exist to allocate different marks to group members will be a decision solely for the Unit Coordinator.

This piece of assessment is designed to enhance knowledge of the professional and ethical obligations of lawyers in legal practice and the delivery of legal services, and to engage students in independent research and critical analysis.

Short release interim assignment – case study and reflection (25%)

The interim assignment will be released at 9am on Monday 28 November and is due at 9am on Thursday 8 December (Sydney, Australia time).

The word limit is 1,500 words.

This task will require students to engage in reflective writing and analysis.

Students will be provided with a case study and asked to engage with materials set for class to reflect on, among other things, the motivation(s) and action(s) of the character(s) in the case study.

This assignment is designed to facilitate engagement with reflective practice, in particular about the role lawyers play in enabling access to justice and on professional and ethical issues relevant to legal practice and the delivery of legal services.

The extension of time that may be granted by Special Consideration is the period up to 15 December 9am. After this date, the outcome of special consideration applications will be at the discretion of the Unit Coordinator.

Short release final assignment (60%)

The final assignment will be released at 9 am on Wednesday 14 December and will be due at 9am on Monday 19 December (Sydney, Australia time).

The word limit for the final assignment is 3,000 words. 

The final assignment will include a multi-part problem-based question and a question requiring a narrative response.

The assignment is designed to ensure students can talk knowledgeably about the role lawyers play in facilitating access to justice, to understand and explain the source, nature and meaning of lawyers professional and ethical obligations, and know how to identify and address professional and ethical issues in legal practice and legal services delivery. It will also require students to be able to describe the processes for holding lawyers accountable for their actions, and to explain and evaluate the impact of change on lawyering.

The extension of time that may be granted by Special Consideration is the period up to 26 December 9am.  After this date, the outcome of special consideration applications will be at the discretion of the Unit Coordinator.

The total word-count for written work excludes the title-page, citations in footnotes and any bibliography, but includes everything else, such as headings , subheadings, quotations and, eve if it does not seem substantive. anything other than citations in footnotes. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: A student must make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks set out in this Unit of Study in order to obtain a Pass mark and grade (or above); otherwise an Absent Fail grade will be recorded as the student’s result for this Unit of Study.

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 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


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

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, without an approved extension, will attract a penalty of 5% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment per calendar day or part thereof. For example, a submission after 9am but by 11.59pm on the due date will attract a 5% penalty. A submission after midnight of the due date for submission will attract a 10% penalty. A submission on the following day after midnight will attract a 15% penalty, and so on. Penalties for late submission will be strictly applied with no grace-period. Canvas allows students to submit after the deadline, but all submissions after the due date and time will be recorded as late. The date and time of submission as recorded by Canvas is taken as the official and final record of a student's submission.

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
Ongoing Introduction to the unit of study and legal ethics; Approaches to ethics and professional responsibility 1 Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO7
Approaches to ethics and professional responsibility 2; Organisational culture and diversity Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7
Legal Needs, Access to Justice and Delivery of legal services; Communication and interviewing Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7
Regulatory framework in Australia; Admission and readmission Seminar (4 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Duties to the court; Duties to the client Seminar (4 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Confidentiality and privilege; Conflicts of interest Seminar (4 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Duties in specific areas of practice; Law practice management and inhouse practice Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Complaints and discipline 1; Complaints and discipline 2 / Introduction to competence, liability and immunity Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Competence, liability and immunity (continued); Technology and the future of lawyering Seminar (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Conclusion and overview; Revision Seminar (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: All students are required to attend 70% of classes (or as otherwise specified by the Unit Coordinator) to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Attendance requirements may be satisfied by in person and/or online attendance as specified by the Unit Coordinator. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment.
  • 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 or the “Reading List” page on Canvas.

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 legal research, and engage in 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 constructive 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.