Credit points


Campus offering

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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

This unit examines current trends in the domestic and global legal services industries and the new demands, opportunities and responsibilities they create for lawyers. It examines the assumptions between adversarialism and non-adversarialism in law and legal education and a range of conflict management and dispute resolution systems, including negotiation, mediation, adjudication, arbitration and hybrid processes. It relates these practices to the changing the roles of lawyers and others within these systems towards more interest-based, problem-solving and non-legalistic outcomes. The course includes a dispute resolution and problem-solving Practicum towards the end of the Semester. And concludes with an examination of 'future lawyering' and its challenges in Australia and globally.

The uniting theme in the unit is that of professional identity for law students, legal practitioners and others in the legal services industry. It examines ways of adapting and improving the professional identity of lawyers from one of adversarial advocates to interest-based problem-solvers.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe current trends in the legal services industry at the national and global levels, and explain some key ethical and professional issues facing lawyers now and in future law [GA1, GA2, GA3, GA8] 

LO2 - Contrast and compare the professional identity of lawyers in current legal regimes here and abroad with prospective alternative identities [GA2, GA4, GA5] 

LO3 - Demonstrate and apply problem-solving skills in simulated situations and self-reflect on strengths and shortcomings in relation to their skills and ethics [GA3, GA4, GA6] 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  1. The Legal Services Industry in International Perspective 
  2. Adversarialism in Law, Legal Education and Justice Systems 
  3. Non-Adversarial Trends in Legal Systems 
  4. Changing Patterns in Transactional and Dispute Resolution Lawyering 
  5. Conflict Management and Problem-Solving for Lawyers 
  6. Negotiation Skills and Techniques for Lawyers 
  7. Mediation Skills and Techniques for Lawyers 
  8. Adjudicative and Arbitral Skills and Techniques 
  9. Cultural, Ethical and Cross-border Issues in Lawyering 
  10. Alternative Legal Practices (Collaborative Law, Neutral Lawyering, Virtual Lawyering) 
  11. Promoting New Legal Professional Identities 
  12. Practicum: Problem-solving for Lawyers 
  13. Future Lawyering, Domestic and International: Ethics, Identity and Professionalism 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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


Duration:3 hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent.  Students are expected to spend 150 hours in total for this unit. 


This level two elective unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding of the role of lawyers within the legal profession and society, and to demonstrate skills in legal problem solving. 


Our strategy is to encourage students to creatively engage with unit content and to apply knowledge, skills and understanding developed in the compulsory areas of law to a specialist area of law.  


The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly mode or online mode. We have taken a blended 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 LEO.   

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to assess knowledge, skills and understanding of the role of lawyers within the legal profession and society, and to demonstrate skills in legal problem solving. 


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 OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group assessment: presentation or video, requiring students to demonstrate their ability to research assigned topic and critically evaluate the relevant laws and ethical issues involved   



GA1, GA2, GA3, GA8. 

Short Essay 1500 words, to demonstrate ability to locate, read and evaluate judicial precedent and apply the conventions of legal analysis  


LO1, LO3 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA6; GA8. 

Short Essay 1500 words, to demonstrate ability to research assigned topic and critically evaluate the relevant area of laws and/or ethical issues 


LO1, LO3 

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6. 

Representative texts and references

Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers – An Introduction to Your Future (OUP, 2013) 


Macfarlane, The New Lawyer - How Settlement is Transforming the Practice of Law (UBC Press, 2008) Field, Duffy, Higgins, Lawyering and Positive Professional Identities (Lexis, 2014) 


James and Field, The New Lawyer (John Wiley, 2013) 


Boulle and Alexander, Mediation Skills and Techniques (2ed, Lexis, 2012) 


King, Freiberg, Batagol, Hyams, Non-Adversarial Justice (2ed, Federation 2014)  


Ross, Ethics in Law – Lawyers’ Responsibility and Accountability (6ed, Lexis Nexis, 2014)  


Hardy, Rundle, Mediation for Lawyers (CCH 2010) 


Kahnemann, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Allen Lane, 2011) 


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