LAWS4109 Legal Theory and Ethics

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
This unit examines the role of the lawyer in the legal profession and wider society through the study of legal theory and legal professional ethics. It addresses questions about the concept of the legal system, the nature of legal argumentation and reasoning and different approaches to questions of justice. It explores the framework of laws, professional rules and institutions governing legal professional ethics in Western Australia, in the context of both litigation advocacy and commercial practice, as well as the background and rationale for professional ethics. A critical and reflective understanding is the central focus through close reading of theoretical texts and analysis of professional ethics challenges in a variety of scenarios. Students develop research skills in using theoretical scholarship and the regulatory, administrative and judicial decisions on legal professional ethics.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of (a) terminology to better appreciate scholarly legal debate and formulate and express views, analysis and critique of law and legal issues; (b) the ethical frameworks underpinning law and legal practice; and (c) the scholarship on legal theory from a variety of jurisdictions and cultures; (2) appreciate (a) the concept and underlying rationale for legal ethics; (b) questions of law and justice as both theory and practice; (c) legal and ethical frameworks in light of lawyers' key duties to their clients and to the wider community; (d) the regulatory framework of ethical legal practice; (e) legal and ethical frameworks in light of lawyers' key duties to their clients and to the wider community in the administration of justice; and (f) the substance and application of professional conduct rules to professional practice; (3) (a) critically analyse complex theoretical and ethical issues arising in law; (b) engage critically with scholarship on legal theory; (c) defend or critique a theoretical perspective; (d) identify, articulate and critically analyse complex theoretical and ethical issues arising in law; (e) identify and articulate current issues in legal ethics; (f) defend or critique a theoretical perspective; and (g) analyse the relationship between ideas of the rule of law and theoretical positions on the nature of law; (4) develop a coherent and plausible argument about the appropriate legal ethical conduct for an Australian lawyer in a given scenario using relevant legislation and judicial decisions; (5) communicate clearly in writing their analyses and views on theoretical and ethical issues; and (6) work with a high degree of autonomy and professionalism.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) assignment; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Murray Wesson and Jacinta Dharmananda
Unit rules
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering
LAWS5106 Legal Theory and Ethics
Contact hours
4 hours per week
This unit was previously LAWS5106 Legal Theory and Ethics.
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  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.