LAWS398-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Legal Ethics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


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 applicant for admission to Legal Profession to pass a course covering:
1. An introduction to ethical analysis including an examination of various theories of ethics.
2. The applicability of ethical analysis to legal practice.
3. The principles of ethical conduct and the role and responsibilities of lawyers..
4. The wider responsibilities of lawyers in the community.

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 business;
• 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.


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


Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 14:00 - 16:00 E8 Lecture Theatre (22/2)
C3 Lecture Theatre (29/2-28/3, 2/5-30/5)
19 Feb - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 2 Jun

Course Coordinator

James Mehigan


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Take-Home Test 30 Apr 2024 35%
Final Examination 65%

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:
• an introduction to ethical analysis including an examination of various theories of ethics; and
• the practical application of legal professional ethics.

The assessment will be confirmed in the first week of lectures, but it is likely to be a test and an exam.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

R, Scragg; The Ethical Lawyer ; Thomson Reuters, 2018.

Webb, et al; Ethics, professional responsibility and the lawyer ; 3rd edition; LexisNexis, 2016.

The Library has purchased twelve electronic copies of each of these texts.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $893.00

International fee $4,663.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Faculty of Law .

All LAWS398 Occurrences

  • LAWS398-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024