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Unit of study_

LAWS2013: The Legal Profession

Intensive February, 2024 [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 Louisa Di Bartolomeo,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz In-class quizzes (30%)
Two In-class Quizzes:19 January and 2 February
30% Multiple weeks 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Class Participation (20%)
Class Participation
20% Ongoing
Closing date: 16 Jan 2024
On-going, 10-15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Post-seminar Reflection (20%)
audio/visual recording
20% Week 02
Due date: 23 Jan 2024 at 11:59

Closing date: 30 Jan 2024
10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4 LO5 LO1 LO3 LO6
Supervised exam
Final exam (30%)
In-person, invigilated pen to paper exam.
30% Week 04
Due date: 09 Feb 2024 at 10:00
1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO3

Assessment summary

Class participation (20%) 
Structured Class Participation: on call class participation. Ongoing, 10-15 minutesStudents will be allocated to one seminar/topic starting from Week 1 Day 3. 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.

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 result or in an alternative assessment to be determined by the course coordinator, and may include a viva voce and/or other specified assessment task.

Post-seminar reflection (20%)
Students will be required to submit a post-seminar reflection responding to reflection question/s and relevant class discussion relating to seminars from the first two days of the unit of study. 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 by 11:59pm 23 January 2024 Sydney, Australia time. The closing date for the reflection piece will be 30 January 2024. 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.

In-class quizzes (30%)
Students will be required to complete two in-class quizzes – Quiz 1 on 19 January and Quiz 2 on 2 February 2024 Sydney, Australia time – on the topics covered up to that date. The duration of each quiz will be 30 minutes. The format of the in-class quiz will be determined by the unit coordinator. Students will receive a mark for each quiz, but only the top mark will be counted as the mark for this assessment. If a student misses one in-class quiz, the final mark will be based on the other quiz. If the student misses both in-class quizzes, the outcome of a successful special consideration application will be alternative/varied assessment, the format to be determined by the unit coordinator.

Final exam (30%)
The final exam will be open book and held on campus on Friday 9 February. It will be a formal, in-person, invigilated pen and paper exam. The exam will be 1 hour, with an additional 30 minutes of reading time. Total duration 1.5 hours. It will consist of a problem-based question.
The exam is designed to ensure students can write knowledgeably about the roles that lawyers play in enabling access to justice; to know and explain the source, nature and meaning of lawyers' essential professional obligations; to identify and address professional and ethical issues in legal practice and in the delivery of legal services; to describe the standards and processes for holding lawyers accountable for their professional behaviour; and to engage in critical analysis of legal, policy and law reform materials.



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

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).

Word limit penalty: A piece of assessment which exceeds the prescribed word limit will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment for every 100 words, or part thereof. The total word count for essay and other written assessments will exclude all footnotes and any bibliography (if required).  

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:

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.

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 Week 01, Day 01 - Introduction to the Unit of Study and Critical Thinking Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO6
Week 01, Day 01 - Legal Culture and Approaches to Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Week 01, Day 01 - Law Practice Management, Managing Legal Work & Mental Health Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 01, Day 02 - Diversity and the Role of Lawyers Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Week 01, Day 02 - Legal Needs, Access to Justice and Delivery of Legal Services Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 01, Day 03 - The Regulatory Framework in Australia Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 01, Day 03 - Legal Education – Pre and Post Admission to the Profession 1 Legal Education – Pre and Post Admission to the Profession 2 Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 01, Day 04 - Communication and Interviewing Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 01, Day 04 - 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 LO5 LO6
Week 01, Day 05 - Legal Practice Seminar Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03 Week 03, Day 01 - The Professional Conduct Rules and Fundamental Duties of Lawyers – Duties of Representation and the Lawyer-Client Relationship Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 01 - Confidentiality and Client Legal Privilege Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 03, Day 02 - Conflicts of Interest Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 02 - Duties in Specific Areas of Practice 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 03 - Duties in Specific Areas of Practice 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 03 - Competence, Liability and Immunity Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 04 - Complaints and Discipline 1 Complaints and Discipline 2 Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 05 - Technology and the Future of Legal Services, Lawyering and the Legal Profession, Conclusion and Overview Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 03, Day 05 - Problem solving Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

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 attendance as specified by the Unit Coordinator. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment.  

For units offered in Intensive mode, participation in all scheduled sessions may be expected by a Unit Coordinator in order to satisfy the requirements of the unit. 

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 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.