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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 the legal services delivery model that has traditionally been the focus of the legal enterprise but it now under pressure due to a hyperconnected world. 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 unit 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. Reforging the Concepts of Law and Justice in the Light of Hyperconnected World
  2. The Legal Services Industry from an International Perspective
  3. The Changing Nature of Adversarialism in Law, Legal Education and Justice Systems
  4. Changing Patterns in Transactional Lawyering
  5. Changing Patterns in Dispute Resolution Lawyering
  6. Alternative Legal Practices and the Rise of the Legal Consultant
  7. Cultural, Ethical and Cross-border Issues in Lawyering
  8. Under the Spotlight: Delivering Human Rights and Justice
  9. Fluencies for Lawyering   
  10. Promoting New Legal Professional Identities
  11. Practicum: Problem-solving for Lawyers in a Multidisciplinary Landscape
  12. 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

Short Essay 1500 words, to demonstrate ability to locate, read and evaluate judicial precedent or regulatory developments 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 


LO2, LO3 

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6

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

Representative texts and references

Susskind, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (2ed OUP 2022)


Parker, Successful Digital Transformation in Law Firms: A Question of Culture (Globe Law and Business, 2021)


Hildebrandt M. 2018 ‘Algorithmic regulation and the rule of law’ Phil.Trans.R.Soc.


Beaton and Kaschner Remaking Law Firms: Why and How (American Bar Association, 2016)


Hansson and Fried 2020 ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever (Vermilion - Mass Market)


Newton The Client-Centered Law Firm: How to Succeed in an Experience-Driven World (Blue Check Publishing, 2020)

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