Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Subject outline

Whether you intend to work in private, corporate or government practice and whether in a large or small law practice and no matter where that law practice is physically situated, this subject is relevant and important to you and to the community.

You will further your understanding of the role of the legal profession in the legal system, in particular, its responsibility to serve the community successfully.

As you will soon be accorded the status of an officer of the Supreme Court, you must:

  • be familiar with the values that are significant to the legal profession, and
  • know and understand the legal rules regulating the profession.

Beyond mere knowledge of the rules you will develop the skills to identify and respond appropriately to ethical dilemmas.

In this subject, you will learn:

  • strategies and techniques to help to reduce the prospect of a disciplinary complaint being brought against you
  • how to respond professionally if a complaint is made
  • the confidence to voice ethical concerns in practice, and
  • how to maintain trust and general account records according to law and good practice.

You will complete four tasks in this subject based on real life case studies that an entry level lawyer is likely to face in practice. Each task has associated activities.

Your lecturer is available to assist you with the tasks and will give you feedback. You can also get involved with interactive class discussions via the discussion board.

Learning objectives

At the end of this subject, you will be able to demonstrate the competence required of an entry level lawyer in:

  • identifying, addressing and resolving ethical issues as they arise in practice
  • knowing when to raise ethical concerns and concerns regarding compliance with trust accounting obligations with others
  • identifying and discharging any duty imposed by law and by professional rules in particular situations, including in connection with the maintenance of trust and general account records
  • identifying and meeting fiduciary duties including in connection with dealing with the property of others
  • identifying any potential or actual conflict of interest or duty as soon as reasonable in the circumstances and taken effective action to avoid a potential conflict or, where a conflict has already arisen, dealt with it in accordance with law and good practice
  • taking appropriate action to avoid a conflict of interest arising in  the future
  • displaying professional courtesy in all dealings with others
  • identifying and complying with any rules applying to charging professional fees including maintaining files notes and records in accordance with law and good practice
  • calculating costs in accordance with law, good practice and any agreement between lawyer and client
  • recognising the importance of pro bono contributions to legal practice
  • identifying means available to provide pro bono contributions including using resources provided by professional or community organisations to facilitate such contributions
  • identifying when a client with insufficient resources may be entitled to legal aid, or assistance from professional or community organisations
  • dealing with money received as required by law and good practice
  • keeping records of the receipt, deposit and payment of money as required by law and good practice, and
  • accounting for trust money received.

Tasks and activities

You will complete various tasks and associated activities in this subject that reflect situations and circumstances an entry level lawyer might face in practice.

To assist your learning, you have online resources such as readings and interactive case studies. You also have a hard copy of the College’s Practice Papers, which are also available online and in eBook format.

The calendar sets out the milestones for you to meet, and guides you through the subject. However, other than meeting dates for submission of work and assessments, you can progress through the learning resources and tasks at your own pace, when and where it suits you.

Your lecturer is your mentor and will give you individual guidance. Your lecturer will also give you feedback, and coach you to achieve the required level of competence.

Assessment

To be eligible for assessment you must first:

  • complete each task to a competent standard as determined by your lecturer, and
  • score more than 50% in a multiple choice test.

The final assessment in the subject will be an oral assessment that will include:

  • reflection on your learning in the subject
  • review of the tasks you have submitted, and
  • questions arising from the learning materials.

Your performance in the oral assessment will be graded.