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Unit of study_

LAWS2013: The Legal Profession

Semester 1, 2024 [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. 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) Saskia Hufnagel,
Louisa Di Bartolomeo,
Irene Baghoomians,
Scarlet Wilcock,
Adam Booker,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final Exam (60%)
Open-book examination
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Presentation Structured Class Participation (20%)
On call structured class participation
20% Ongoing 10-15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Post-Seminar Reflection (20%)
Post-seminar reflection
20% Ongoing 10 min audio/visual recording
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Structured Class Participation (20%)

Structured Class Participation: on call class participation. Ongoing, 10-15 minutes. Students will be allocated to one seminar/topic. This 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.

Students will not be reallocated except in the most exceptional circumstances and only with approved Special Consideration. A successful Special Consideration application may result in reallocation of seminar/topic or in an alternative assessment to be determined by the Unit of Study Coordinator, and may include a viva voce and/or other specified assessment task.

Further detailed instructions will be provided via Canvas in the first week of the semester.

Post-seminar reflection (20%)

At the commencement of the semester each student will be allocated to a topic/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 topic/seminar reflection questions, relevant class discussion and independent research. Class participation will begin in Week 3, Class A. 

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 on the same topic/seminar in which they were allocated for structured class participation. 

This 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.

Further detailed instructions will be provided via Canvas in the first week of the semester.

Final examination (60%)

The final assessment is an open-book, pen-and-paper exam held in the formal examination period. The exam is of 2 hour duration plus 30 minutes reading time. The exam will include a problem-based question and an essay question. All material covered in the Unit is assessable.

This examination is designed to ensure students have advanced knowledge of lawyers' professional obligations and the mechanisms for holding lawyers to account for their actions and can apply and evaluate these frameworks in relation to ethical issues and problems. This assessment will also require students to discuss and critically reflect on the role of lawyers in society, the impact of change on lawyering and/or the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms and frameworks for ensuring lawyers' ethical conduct. 

A successful Special Consideration application will be a replacement exam, which may be by way of a viva voce examination. 

Use of editors or proof-readers: 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). 

Special consideration: Successful grants of Special Consideration may involve alternative tasks, as appropriate. 

Assessment requirements to pass a unit of study: 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 2021 (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. Late penalties do not apply to exams and any late submission will not be accepted.

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.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to the Unit; Approaches to Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Diversity and the Role of Lawyers; Introducing the Regulatory Framework in Australia Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 02 Legal Needs, Access to Justice and the Delivery of Legal Services in Australia Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Law Practice Management: Costs & Mental Health Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03 Legal Education – Pre and Post Admission to the Profession 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Legal Education – Pre and Post Admission to the Profession 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 04 Duties to the Court and the Administration of Justice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Duties of Representation and the Lawyer-Client Relationship Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 05 Communication and Interviewing Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Duty of Confidentiality; Exam Information, Recap and Revision Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 07 Review of the Duty of Confidentiality; Client Legal Privilege Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Conflicts of Interest 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 08 Conflict of Interest 2; Duties in Specific Areas of Practice 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Duties in Specific Areas of Practice 2 ; Exam practice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 10 Competence, Liability and Immunity 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Competence, Liability and Immunity 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 11 Complaints and Discipline 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Complaints and Discipline 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 12 Technology and the Future of Legal Services, Lawyering and the Legal Profession Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Conclusion, Overview and Exam Preparation Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are required to attend at least 70% of classes to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from undertaking the final assessment.  

Referencing: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting style, although you should confirm this with your lecturer, and a link to the library website where this is set out comprehensively is available at Referencing and Citation Styles: AGLC4  

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. Identify and critically reflect on lawyers’ roles, professional identities and ethical frameworks.
  • LO2. Explain the source and content of lawyers' professional obligations and the mechanisms for holding lawyers to account; apply these frameworks to problem scenarios.
  • LO3. Identify and address professional and ethical issues in legal practice and evaluate the effectiveness of different mechanisms for ensuring lawyers’ ethical conduct.
  • LO4. Evaluate the role of lawyers in enabling access to justice and the impacts of economic, social and technological change on lawyering and the legal profession.
  • LO5. Critically analyse legal, policy and law reform materials and effectively communicate these analyses in written and oral form.
  • LO6. Critically reflect on personal learning and professional 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 assessment has been updated in line with the new assessment framework. Lecture schedules for the full-time and part-time groups have been updated.


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.