LAWS12063 - Legal Drafting

General Information

Unit Synopsis

Legal practitioners engage in legal drafting on a daily basis and effective written communication skills are essential for legal practice. This unit aims to enhance your legal drafting skills by providing you with an authentic practical learning experience. You will complete a variety of practical drafting tasks that newly qualified lawyers are likely to undertake in practice, including: - drafting legal documents, such as pleadings and affidavits; - drafting contracts in accordance with a client’s instructions; - preparing letters of advice; and - preparing persuasive arguments, such as outlines of argument. This unit will analyse a range of drafting techniques and explore how to convey complex information using clear and simple language. You will also consider how to draft a document in accordance with its purpose, the needs of the audience and the client’s instructions. You will further refine their drafting skills by engaging in reflective practice and through a process of critically analysing and redrafting existing documents. Topics of focus include: - drafting techniques and plain English drafting; - grammar, syntax and punctuation in legal drafting; - the art of persuasive writing; - common sources of ambiguity in the drafting of documents; and - devising solutions to drafting issues. Note that a comprehensive coverage of drafting convention relevant to specialised substantive areas of the law is not possible in this unit. Instead, the unit focuses on the foundational principles for drafting legal documents to prepare students for the significant and diverse range of tasks they may face as a legal practitioner.

Details

Level Undergraduate
Unit Level 2
Credit Points 6
Student Contribution Band SCA Band 4
Fraction of Full-Time Student Load 0.125
Pre-requisites or Co-requisites

Pre-requisite: 24 credit points of law. 

Important note: Students enrolled in a subsequent unit who failed their pre-requisite unit, should drop the subsequent unit before the census date or within 10 working days of Fail grade notification. Students who do not drop the unit in this timeframe cannot later drop the unit without academic and financial liability. See details in the Assessment Policy and Procedure (Higher Education Coursework).

Class Timetable View Unit Timetable
Residential School No Residential School

Unit Availabilities from Term 1 - 2021

Term 2 - 2021 Profile
Online
Term 2 - 2022 Profile
Online

Attendance Requirements

All on-campus students are expected to attend scheduled classes – in some units, these classes are identified as a mandatory (pass/fail) component and attendance is compulsory. International students, on a student visa, must maintain a full time study load and meet both attendance and academic progress requirements in each study period (satisfactory attendance for International students is defined as maintaining at least an 80% attendance record).

Assessment Overview

Recommended Student Time Commitment

Each 6-credit Undergraduate unit at CQUniversity requires an overall time commitment of an average of 12.5 hours of study per week, making a total of 150 hours for the unit.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task Weighting
1. Online Quiz(zes) 20%
2. Reflective Practice Assignment 20%
3. Written Assessment 60%

This is a graded unit: your overall grade will be calculated from the marks or grades for each assessment task, based on the relative weightings shown in the table above. You must obtain an overall mark for the unit of at least 50%, or an overall grade of ‘pass’ in order to pass the unit. If any ‘pass/fail’ tasks are shown in the table above they must also be completed successfully (‘pass’ grade). You must also meet any minimum mark requirements specified for a particular assessment task, as detailed in the ‘assessment task’ section (note that in some instances, the minimum mark for a task may be greater than 50%).

Consult the University’s Grades and Results Policy for more details of interim results and final grades

Past Exams

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Previous Feedback

Term 2 - 2020 : The overall satisfaction for students in the last offering of this course was 4.5 (on a 5 point Likert scale), based on a 63.16% response rate.

Feedback, Recommendations and Responses

Every unit is reviewed for enhancement each year. At the most recent review, the following staff and student feedback items were identified and recommendations were made.

Source: John Milburn
Feedback
In term 2, 2019 for LAWS12063, I continued with a curriculum that has a major emphasis on legislative drafting. While that is a useful methodology for teaching statutory interpretation, greater emphasis could be placed on teaching statutory interpretation by reference to decided cases.
Recommendation
Modify the focus of the unit to teach statutory interpretation by greater reference to decided cases. This will be catered for in the rebranding of the unit to Legal Drafting.
Action Taken
The unit has been completely rewritten to focus on a range of drafting exercises trainees and newly qualified lawyers might be expected to prepare in legal practice. The unit is very practical but does still discuss cases that are relevant to the drafting process or the interpretation of legal documents.
Source: John Milburn
Feedback
In term 2, 2019 for LAWS12063, I considered the drafting aspect of the unit primarily in weeks 10 and 11.
Recommendation
Decrease the statutory interpretation component of the unit and increase the drafting skills component of the unit. This will be catered for in the rebranding of the unit to Legal Drafting.
Action Taken
The unit maintains reference to some aspects of statutory interpretation where these are relevant to legal drafting more generally, such as plain English drafting principles, drafting conventions and latin maxims. The unit now includes a broad range of legal documents, such as letters, outlines of arguments, pleadings, wills, and affidavits.
Source: John Milburn
Feedback
Alter the assessment regime to remove the participation component.
Recommendation
Given that an assessment based on participation is against policy, the assessment regime must be changed to ensure that assessments relate to the ULO or CLO. This will be catered for in the rebranding of the unit to Legal Drafting.
Action Taken
The assessment now includes a drafting portfolio, reflection and quiz.
Source: Have your say survey, feedback in class
Feedback
Provide some exemplars with the more complex drafting tasks.
Recommendation
Exemplars were not provided for some drafting tasks, such as wills, because the purpose of the task was for students to attempt to draft these documents from scratch without sight of an original document, using the drafting techniques taught in the first four weeks. However, short example passages of text were provided in the study guides where students would not necessarily know the drafting convention to include in the will. However, exemplars of pleadings can be provided in future, as there is more scope to vary the content to be included in the pleadings. A workshop activity related to the critiquing the exemplars will also be included.
Action Taken
Nil.
Source: Have your say survey, feedback in class
Feedback
Students appreciated the fact that the assessment tasks were authentic legal drafting tasks.
Recommendation
Continue to use a drafting portfolio that requires students to complete a broad range of authentic legal drafting tasks, to be submitted incrementally throughout the term.
Action Taken
Nil.
Source: Have your say survey, feedback in class
Feedback
Students appreciated the extensive formative feedback that was provided on a weekly basis to facilitate improvement in their legal drafting and the extensive feedback on their drafting in the assessment tasks.
Recommendation
Continue to provide feedback via both formative tasks and summative assessments.
Action Taken
Nil.
Source: Have your say survey, feedback in class
Feedback
Tutorial sessions sometimes felt rushed to ensure the class got through the weekly material and covered all the relevant drafting conventions, practical drafting tips etc.
Recommendation
Increase workshop length.
Action Taken
Nil.
Unit learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Communicate effectively in writing, including the appropriate usage of grammar, syntax and punctuation
  2. Evaluate and debate issues affecting the drafting of documents and redraft any provisions requiring amendment
  3. Apply principles of plain English drafting and drafting conventions to create legal documents that comply with the client’s instructions and the objectives of the document
  4. Analyse a variety of approaches to the interpretation of documents and utilise these approaches and legal principles to inform the drafting of a document
  5. Reflect critically on their own written work and provide comprehensive feedback to others through a peer review process.

Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Learning Outcomes
Assessment Tasks Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4 5
1 - Online Quiz(zes)
2 - Reflective Practice Assignment
3 - Written Assessment
Alignment of Graduate Attributes to Learning Outcomes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Graduate Attributes Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4 5
1 - Communication
2 - Problem Solving
3 - Critical Thinking
4 - Information Literacy
Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Graduate Attributes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Assessment Tasks Graduate Attributes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 - Online Quiz(zes)
2 - Reflective Practice Assignment
3 - Written Assessment