LAWS398-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019

Legal Ethics

15 points
18 Feb 2019 - 23 Jun 2019


An introduction to ethical theories and their applicability to legal practice. The concept of a profession and the duties and responsibilities of lawyers.

Please note:  This course is mandatory for students seeking admission to the Legal Profession.

The New Zealand Council of Legal Education requires all applicants for admission to the Legal Profession to pass a course covering:
•    an introduction to ethical analysis including an examination of various theories of ethics
•    the applicability of ethical analysis to legal practice
•    the wider responsibilities of lawyers in the community
•    the concept of a profession and the ethical professional duties of practitioners (which
includes, among other topics, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, duties to the Court,  
duties of loyalty and fidelity).

To meet this requirement, LAWS398 introduces students to ethical theories and their relationship to legal practice, including consideration of role obligations, what it means to be an ‘ethical lawyer’,  the concept of a profession, the professional responsibilities of lawyers, and problems involved in the practice of law.  The course also addresses the place of the Law Society and the ethical and legal duties owed by lawyers in legal practice to their clients, including the duty to the Court and the duties of loyalty, confidence, competence and disclosure.

The Legal Ethics course is intended to enable you to:
•    identify and critique different approaches to the nature of the legal profession, and the
relationship between lawyers and society, including consideration of law as a profession and a
•    introduce analytical approaches towards the practice of law and the relationship between
lawyers, clients and ethics
•    understand the ethical principles and the Code of Conduct and Client Care Rules which apply to
the New Zealand legal profession, including duties to the client, duties to the administration of  
justice, and duties in legal practice
•    understand the role of the New Zealand Law Society, its role as a professional organisation,
professional standards, and the discipline of practitioners

Learning Outcomes

  • Students successfully completing this course should:
  •  Be able to recognise and critically discuss the dominant philosophical approaches to ethics and the relationship between ethics and legal practice.
  •  Have an understanding of the legal profession and its regulation.
  •  Be able to analyse critically the role of the lawyer in the New Zealand legal system.
  •  Have examined and understood the concepts of confidentiality, loyalty, and other legal professional duties in the lawyer-client relationship.
  •  Have an understanding of contemporary issues in legal ethics, including legal ethics and Maori and bullying, harassment and discrimination in legal practice.
  •  Have developed foundational skills in identifying and engaging with moral and philosophical problems and different types of professional and personal conduct and questions of moral, professional and legal obligation.
  •  Have developed skills in recognising and applying the law of contract, consumer law, equity and torts in relation to lawyer-client duties, breaches and remedies.
  •  Have developed enhanced skills in critical analysis and the presentation of arguments.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.


(i) LAWS101; and (ii) LAWS110


LAWS370 (prior to 2006), LAWS399 (prior to 2006)


Timetable 2019

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 12:00 - 14:00 E8 Lecture Theatre 18 Feb - 7 Apr
29 Apr - 2 Jun

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Elizabeth Macpherson


Carolyn Mason


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Online Test 29 Mar 2019 10%
Essay 05 Apr 2019 30%
Final Examination 60%

The assessment of this course is subject to the New Zealand Council of Legal Education’s Guidelines issued pursuant to the Professional Examinations in Law Regulations 2008.  A moderator appointed by the Council must approve a range of aspects of the course including assessment.

The Council requires the Faculty to examine the following topics in Legal Ethics:
o  The philosophical basis of legal professional ethics; and
o  The practical application of legal professional ethics.

The examination must count for a minimum of 60% of the final grade for the course.

The assessment will be confirmed in the first week of lectures but, in addition to the Final Examination, it is likely there will be an Online Quiz and an Essay.

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Webb, et al; Ethics, Professional Responsibility and the Lawyer; 3rd ed; LexisNexis, 2016.

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $806.00

International fee $3,775.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see School of Law.

All LAWS398 Occurrences

  • LAWS398-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019