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LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research

Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The Rule of Law, and access to legal advice, are the basis of free, democratic, and just societies which promote personal dignity, thriving communities, and the Common Good. Law graduates working in legal practice, in business, in government, and in the community play an essential role in promoting and upholding the Rule of Law in Australia and across the world. The Bachelor of Laws degree is an accredited degree for admission as a legal practitioner in Australia.

This level four unit contributes to the development of:

  • advanced theoretical and technical knowledge in the field of Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility;
  • advanced, cognitive, technical and communication skills and the ability to apply these to complex ethical problems in a professional context;
  • advanced research and writing skills.

This unit deals with the concept of professional responsibility and the particular responsibilities lawyers have to their clients, to the law, to the courts and to other practitioners. It also examines the regulation of the legal profession including the costs lawyers may charge and recover, restrictions on the conduct of legal practice, professional misconduct, disciplinary proceedings and trust accounting.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Describe and critically evaluate the professional responsibilities of a legal practitioner
LO2Correctly determine how a legal practitioner should act in the kinds of situations, or facing the kinds of dilemmas, lawyers encounter in practice
LO3Outline the principles relating to holding money on trust


Topics will include: 

  1. The concept of professional responsibility.   
  2. The ethical and regulatory framework governing lawyers’ professional conduct.  
  3. The duties of a legal practitioner to clients, the law, the courts and to fellow practitioners.   
  4. The structure and regulation of the legal profession.   
  5. Admission to legal practice, professional misconduct and disciplinary proceeding. 

This content reflects the academic areas of knowledge required for accreditation, Schedule 1, Legal Profession Admission Rules 2015.   

Professional and personal conduct in respect of a practitioner’s duty: 

(a) to the law, 

(b) to the Courts, 

(c) to clients, including a basic knowledge of the principles relating to the holding of money on trust, and 

(d) to fellow practitioners, 

or topics of such breadth and depth as to satisfy the following guidelines: 

The topics should include knowledge of the various pertinent rules concerning a practitioner’s duty to the law, the Courts, clients and fellow practitioners, and a basic knowledge of the principles relating to the holding of money on trust. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode: Lectures, tutorials, electronic consultation, library tasks and presentations or Online lectures and activities.  

Duration: 4 hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent. Students are expected to spend 150 hours in total for this unit. 

This level four specified “Priestley” unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law to meet the requirements of accreditation.  

Our strategy is to encourage students to creatively engage with unit content and to apply fundamental legal knowledge, skills and understandings to address legal problems.  

The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly or online. We have taken a multimodal learning approach to provide accessibility and flexibility to our students and a student-focused approach that increases depth of learning and engagement through actively utilising Canvas.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to assess knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law required for accreditation.  

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes listed.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment 1: Tutorial participation 

This unit specifically requires students to consider real life issues arising in the practice of law and how legal ethics and professional responsibility deal with and manage those issues. Tutorials allow students to gain an understanding of how to use statute and case law in dealing with those issues. They also allow students to work with other students in the class and to develop their advocacy skills through participation in individual, small and large group problem solving exercises. 


LO1, LO2

Assessment 2: Problem solving and research assignment.  

This summative and formative Assessment Task comprises a fact scenario and question/s. Students must consider a fact scenario and answer the given question/s for that scenario using proper referencing to the relevant statute and common law and including a bibliography.  The purpose of this assessment task is to assess the student’s ability to discuss, understand and apply ethical obligations involved in practice. A rubric will be used to assess students 


LO1, LO3

Assessment 3: Mock Disciplinary Tribunal Hearing

The purpose of this final summative assessment task is to test the student’s knowledge and assess their ability to apply of legislation and the common law covered in this unit to fact scenarios in a mock contested hearing before a Disciplinary Tribunal. 

The content of the Mock Disciplinary Tribunal Hearing will be based on the material presented in lectures, workshops and tutorials. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

G E Dal Pont, Lawyers’ Professional Responsibility (Thomson, 7th ed, 2020)  

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