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Unit of study_

LAWS2013: The Legal Profession

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal evening] - 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 Irene Baghoomians,
Lecturer(s) Simon Rice,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Structured Class Participation
On call class participation
20% Ongoing 10-20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Post-Seminar reflection
Post-seminar reflection
20% Ongoing 10 min audio/visual recording
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Final short-release assignment
60% Week 13
Due date: 26 May 2023 at 10:00

Closing date: 05 Jun 2023
3500 words/5 working days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Structured Class Participation (20%)

Students will be allocated to a group or seminar/topic and will not be reallocated except in the most exceptional circumstances and only with the approval of the unit of study coordinator.  The unit of study coordinator will determine whether exceptional circumstances exist warranting reallocation. A student who believes they have such exceptional circumstances must make application via email (to the course coordinator) for reallocation to another topic prior to the end of Week 1 of the semester (i.e. by COB 24 February 2023) or as soon as possible following such exceptional circumstances eventuating. Students must clearly outline in their email to the course coordinator the exceptional circumstances that require a reallocation.  Class participation will begin in Week 3, Class A. 

A successful Special Consideration application will be an alternative assessment to be determined by the course coordinator, and may include a viva voce and/or other specified assessment task.  

This piece of assessment is designed to enhance knowledge of the roles that lawyers play in enabling access to justice, and of the professional and ethical obligations of lawyers in legal practice and the delivery of legal services, and to engage students in critical analysis and reflective practice as well as gaining further experience in speaking in class.

Post-seminar reflection (20%)

At the commencement of the semester each student will be allocated to a seminar by the unit of study coordinator, for which they will be required to submit a post-seminar reflection responding to at least one of the seminar reflection questions and relevant class discussion. To complete this assessment task students will be required to submit an audio/visual recording of no more than 10 minutes duration. This recording must be submitted within a week of the allocated seminar. Students will not be permitted to submit a post-seminar reflection in the same seminar in which they were allocated for class participation. The closing date for the reflection piece will be two weeks after the date of the allocated seminar for the reflection. Beyond the closing date an alternative seminar for reflection may be allocated by the course coordinator (if practicable) or alternatively an alternative assessment will be granted (and may include a viva voce and/or other specified task).  

This piece of assessment is designed to encourage students to reflect on the role of lawyers, the nature of their work, the professional and ethical obligations of lawyers in legal practice and the delivery of legal services, and engage students in critical thinking and reflective practice.

Final short-release assignment (60%)

The final short-release assignment will be released at 10am on Friday 19 May 2023 (Sydney, Australia time) and will be due at 10 am on Friday 26 May 2023 (Sydney, Australia time) via the assignment dropbox on Canvas.

The word limit for the final assignment is 3,500 words. 

The final assignment will include a problem-based question and an essay question.

The assignment is designed to ensure students can talk knowledgeably and critically 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 critically evaluate the impact of change on lawyering. 

A successful Special Consideration application after the closing date (as specified in the assessment table), may be an alternative assessment piece in a similar format or a viva voce addressing similar issues. 

The use of assistance in preparing and editing assessment tasks in this unit of study is strictly prohibited. Assistance includes human and automated writing tools (not including spell checking).

Word limit: 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A student must make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks set out in this Unit of Study outline 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:

A student who has not obtained an extension by applying successfully for Special Consideration or a Simple Extension will be penalised for late submission of submitted work at a rate of 10% of the total mark for the assignment per day or part-day (including weekends and public holidays). For example, a submission after 10 am but before the same time the following day will attract a 10% penalty. Penalties for late submission will be strictly applied with no grace period. Please note that Canvas allows students to submit work 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 will be taken as the official and final record of a student's submission. The final submitted work via Canvas is the piece of work that will be marked. Students should ensure that they upload the correct version of their submitted work to the correct box for the correct subject. Corrupt and incorrect files submitted through Canvas will not be accepted. Canvas allows students to check their 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
Week 01 (i) Introduction to the Legal Profession Unit of Study and Critical Thinking and (ii) Legal Culture and Approaches to Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 02 (i) Law Practice Management, Managing Legal Work and Mental Health; and (ii) Diversity and the Role of Lawyers Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 03 (i) Legal Needs, Access to Justice and Delivery of Legal Services in Australia; and (ii) The Regulatory Framework in Australia Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 04 Legal Education – Pre and Post Admission to the Profession Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 05 (i) Communication and Interviewing and (ii) The Professional Conduct Rules and Fundamental Duties of Lawyers – Duties to the Court and the Administration of Justice Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 06 The Professional Conduct Rules and Fundamental Duties of Lawyers – Duties of Representation and the Lawyer-Client Relationship Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 07 Confidentiality and Client Legal Privilege Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 08 Conflicts of Interest Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 09 Duties in Specific Areas of Practice Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 10 Competence, Liability and Immunity Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 11 Complaints and Discipline Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 12 Technology and the Future of Legal Services, Lawyering and the Legal Profession Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 13 Conclusion and Overview Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 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. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment

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 both a textbook in this unit of study as well as other prescribed readings.

The textbook is: Vivien Holmes and Francesca Bartlett, Parker and Evans’s Inside Lawyers’ Ethics’ (Cambridge University Press, 4th ed, 2023).

The prescribed readings are/will be available online either via the Web or library databases or the “Reading List” page on Canvas.

A detailed reading guide is/will be 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. 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.