The Profession of Law, the Ethical Obligations of Law Students & Mental Health in the Legal Profession

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The need for an organized community where everyone has the right to be heard and accorded a fair trial strengthens the practice of law. A client's perspective, which might not be heard or would otherwise be misrepresented, is given by attorneys. I think that all professionals should respect each other as well as witnesses, customers, and judges. The main reason the legal profession is held in such high esteem is because of the tradition of decency that it has established. It goes far beyond what is necessary for court hearings. Lawyers must present an image consistent with the ideals they purport to represent. Their engagements and correspondence must reflect a given discourse, similar to the values they champion. In my opinion, such is the fundamental ethical obligation of a legal professional. The fundamental rationale of the trade is that everyone’s discourse, however unconventional, must be approached objectively under law. Additionally, the profession must dictate framework that provides for just application and administration of the law. Every individual subjected to a judicial process must be respected and made aware of their rights.

I have observed that a strategic rationale for the existence of the profession is the provision of tittles reserved for regulated, licensed, and accredited Australian practitioners. It ensures that the participants take an oath of affirmation that obligates them to act in accordance with the tenets prescribed by the Constitution. The signing of the roll indicates evolution from being a simple scholar with a law degree to an important legal practitioner or officer of the court with immense influence in the outcome of cases and the lives of those affected by it.

Topic 2: Justice, Access to Justice and Miscarriage of Justice

While theorists suggest that justice is intertwined with the ideals of empathy, transparency, legitimacy, and fairness, equality in access to justice is often immensely elusive. It is a painful reality that in today’s Australia, there are instances where the level of fairness a person is awarded by the judicial system depends on their ability to influence expediency of the processes. While most developed nations try to enshrine elevated standards of fairness to their works, the efforts, though well-intentioned, will always be insufficient.

I believe that the fundamental premise of the practice of law may be that “justice must always be done and be seen to be done” , however, this does not always hold. Many judicial processes attempt to observe logic or reasonable justification when issuing determinations. They establish sets of principles in anticipation of disputes with select constructs and characteristics. Participants often strive to espouse empathy and recognise the emotions experienced by affected individuals. Unfortunately, application of the law is at times, subjective and sympathetic to the unique circumstances of the incident. It is what informs the various approaches, including transitional, retributive, distributive, compensatory, and procedural justice. Retributive justice is a clear indication of society’s determination to attain judicial equality. It entails the rectification of wrongs based on the perceived seriousness of one’s transgressions.

I am appalled by the prospect of miscarriage of justice and its potential impact on the life of individuals suspected of or affected by a crime. The law is intended to be impregnable and undefined by any external actors or processes that may result in an unfair outcome. Therefore, the occurrence of judicial miscarriage is not only unfortunate but a painful reminder that the system is still in dire need of refinement.

Topic 3 Law as a Means of Social Control

The use of law to maintain social order and define a community’s behaviour is not remotely new. It has been used for millennia and was noted right from the advent of communal existence. As early civilizations had no complex means of ensuring structure in their quest for peaceful coexistence, the establishment of binding rules was a way of enforcing social correctness. While there has been extensive adjustments to the concept of using law as a means of social control over the years, the fundamental premises has remained more or less the same. From my own experience, governments all across the globe employ the use of law to define social conduct. The states use the power bestowed upon them to prescribe public reaction to flurry or contemporary issues. For instance, 30 years ago, the Internet was first used by the public, there was limited government oversight conversation on the use of the web as it was not ubiquitous. However, with increase in popularity of the resource and its eventual widespread availability, states established localised regulations governing the use of the internet.

Certain content were outlawed or regarded as inappropriate for work settings. The rest of society fashioned the reactions from their own sensibilities and that of the state. Other nations went as far as banning access to certain Internet sites or functions. Access to unauthorised sites is punishable by law. Certain lifestyles or sexual orientations may be deeply prohibited in some nations but accepted in others. Therefore, society is immensely influenced by the presence or absence of law. I appreciate the law’s unmatched capability to resolve disputes and ensure peaceful ends to conflicts. It is immensely critical in ensuring social quietude and unstrained existence.

Topic 4 Human Rights and Equality: International Law

Human rights are fundamental legal entailments that every individual is awarded by virtue of being human. They are unalienable, hence, cannot be separated from any given person. Human rights are a steady indication of humanity’s resolve to observe dignity for every living individual and observe law in every engagement. They are a standard for determining the value of human life by the government. The rights are universal, hence apply the same to all individuals regardless of their geographical position. They are to be upheld by the responsible sovereign leadership and must not be limited under any circumstances. From the lesson, I recognise that human rights are indivisible. The fundamental premise of the concept of human rights is ensuring a universal culture of equality.

Ideally, by providing a uniform set of rights, all human beings become equal. They are inherently similar and have no defined natural advantage over each other in the presence of the law. The rights promote non-discrimination on any basis. It is true that in modern history there have been many incidents of discrimination. Human rights maintain that life must be preserved by all means. However much socially disruptive a person is, they their human dignity should not stripped away without due process.

To ensure global uniform observation of human rights, there is need to liberalise access to justice. The fundament of an effective justice system is openness and availability in all its parts. The justice system must maintain respect for members of the community if it is to remain relevant or useful to the community it serves. In my opinion, allowing members of the society to be treated equally before the law is the most effective way of ensuring respect for human rights.

Topic 5 Human Rights and Equality: Domestic Law

Human rights are divided into firsts, second and third generations on the basis of centrality to the gainful existence of humanity. First generation includes civil and political rights which address the issues of equality before the law and the sanctity of human life. They are also define matters concerning the freedom to access information critical to one’s existence, the ability to freely express one’s self without the fear of interference or punishment by members of society or the state, and the right to vote. Second generation rights mostly encompasses the cultural, social, and economic perspectives of a person’s life. The class of rights guarantees one’s entitlement to participate in economic activity. It allows people unfettered access to social security, shelter, clothing healthcare and education. Individuals are allowed to practice their religion freely without the fear of interference. Domestic law belongs to this category. It entails the rights and freedoms possessed citizens, residents, and visitors to a given country.

Third generation rights ensures that a person is awarded access to luxuries and freedoms and that their exercise of the provisions are not interfered with. The third classification of rights deal with matters pertaining to the environment, development, social enterprise, peace, and access to resources. Law practitioners and judicial officers must strive to uphold a fiduciary relationship of confidence and trust. They should also exhibit undivided loyalty of service. Lastly, they should endeavor to yield to an imperative duty owed to the administration of justice and the court.

Topic 6 Relationships, Family and the Law

Family is defined as two or more persons related by affiliation, blood, or marriage who may cooperate economically and may share a dwelling. It is defined, a family is a group of people who care for each other and may share common ancestry or make a legally binding agreement to stay in a union. I have observed that as marriage is a majorly cultural issue, its definition is often fluid and differs from one setting to another. The association between family and law depends on a plethora of issues including changes in social and economic structures, migration patterns, and the increasing size of the population.

Cultural integration has been accelerated by modernity. Increased interactions as a consequence of liberalised societal beliefs have enable further cultural diffusion leading to social diversity and varied family structures. Changes in fertility rates and extended healthy ageing has altered the composition of families. People, especially those in developed countries such as Australia, are choosing to have leaner families with less children or none at all. They are exhibiting increased dispersion and mobility in pursuit of employment opportunities and better life. Advances in science have also resulted in vast social changes. The inclusion of women in the workforce has reduced the amount of time available to tend to parent obligations. Women are often economically and socially independent though they may not be apprehensive of the realities of single parenthood. Medical procedures such as hormonal replacement therapy, artificial insemination, and surrogacy have changed reproduction, extensively redefining the traditional understanding of family.

Topic 7. Indigenous Australians, Native Title and the Constitution

Australia is a diverse, culturally inclusive country that appreciates the different ethnic groups that constitutes its social strata. The Constitution details a plethora of provisions designed to safeguard the interests of all groups and allow them to practice their customs with pride. The country was first sighted by English explorers in 1770 and officially declared a British territory 18 years later. The British explorers proceeded to declare the land inhabited despite local communities predominantly occupying the region. The indigenous populations had their own religion, culture, and legal system and operated fairly independently from the community around them. The early blatant non-recognition of the presence of Aboriginals set centre-stage for historical discrimination and injustices, culminating in their exemption from key legal entitlements. Until recently, their rights were not safeguarded by the Australian constitution. The power of the constitution would later be expanded to include the rights of indigenous populations.

From my analysis, the recent drive by the Australia government to recognise the local populations is well-deserved. For a long time, the groups have been systematically disenfranchised. For instance, the Yirrkala people have practiced their customary beliefs for a long time. They have conducted religious rights on lands they believe are sacred. However, recently Nabalco mining company discovered bauxite in the region and successfully attained orders from the Northern Territory government allowing it to continue with the expedition. The Yirrkala protested the decision in the Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (1971) 17 FLR 141, (“The Gove Land Rights Case”) and lost, underlining the legal challenges aboriginal groups undergo in present day Australia. For true progress to be achieved, the country must accept mistakes done in the past and endeavour to correct them.

Topic 8. The Stolen Generations and the Law

Positive discrimination is the process of subjectively identifying individuals for a select legal process without their willful consent. It occurs in instances where there is reasonable proof that a person is not adequately aware of the danger their conduct or environment presents to them. In Australia, it is practiced in regions occupied by the aboriginals and other small ethnic groups. It entails the relocation of children from their homes to other institutions that offer better living standards. It is expected that the government would want children to be awarded the best prospects as they undergo physical, emotional and cognitive development.

Superficially, one might assume that the system is immensely insensitive to enforce artificial displacement of children from their natural habitats. The forced displacement of children from the local communities is a government initiative designed to offer minor a chance at life with average Australia standards. Aboriginal groups tend to have a diminished outlook of modern lifestyles. They prefer to cherish their traditions and observe in their natural settings. As many of them shun extremities such as modern forms of healthcare and education, they are often at great risk of developing health complications and failing to be competitive against other communities with conformist leanings. To spare the children from this unfortunate fate, the government often endeavours to detach children from such settings and place them in more progressive environments. Children may develop cognitively, physically, and socially away from their families but become competitive, even influential in the contemporary Australian society. The government is hopeful that despite the heightened public apprehension the program faces, children’s lives will be positively impacted.

Topic 9: Information, Freedom of Expression & Censorship

Freedom to access government information is immensely critical in any progressive civilization. The Freedom of Information Act (1982) guarantees unfettered access to information critical to one’s safety, security, or general wellbeing. The Australian government is mandated to avail information critical to public interest provided it does not interfere with national security. Citizens have the freedom to express themselves freely without the fear of interference from any local, state or non-state actors. In Australia, one cannot be prosecuted for what they profess or what they purport to believe in. The privilege extends to the use of communication devices such as social media. Ideally, the freedom of expression ensures that a person can defend outrageous perspectives without any harm coming to them. They can espouse beliefs unacceptable to others and may even attempt to champion them to the larger public without the fear of conflict or confrontation.

Arguably, there are situations where censorship of the freedom of expression is necessary. Ideally, the right allows one to dispense any type of content they so wish. However, there are instances where the person discharges material that is divisive or one that expressly incites hate or violence. In such instances, the freedom of expression should be censured. Censorship presents an avenue through which the government can maintain some degree of control over the abuse of the freedom of expression. It is a tool that the government employs to guard against the misuse of mass communication media. As much as a person should be allowed to hold whichever perspectives they prefer, it should not interfere with the general wellbeing of other individuals.

Topic 10 Terrorism & Security

In my opinion, besides the right to life, there is no provision so critical to the wellbeing of a community such as the guarantee of security. Security ensures protection against physical harm. Terrorism is the act of mass violence with motivation from a given ideological perspective. While prosecuting cases involving the sensitive subject, it is imperative that human rights are observed.

The subject of human rights presents an interesting additional argument; the responsibilities. Ideally, one is subject to a select set of rights by virtue of being members of a given free society. They are inherently bequeathed with a vast array of legal entitlements as is prescribed by the law of the land. As such, they are effectively protected from forces that seek to destabilise social order. However, the acquisition of such rights often come with immense responsibilities. For one, an individual is required to respect and endeavour to preserve the rights of others. They must understand that they are the primary custodians of the welfare of others. As such, the individuals must avoid situations that infringe on the rights of others.

Law exists to serve certain key societal interests. It endeavours to serve as a balance that tips to favor or reprove individuals based on the impact of their actions on others. It endeavours to protect consumers of legal service and the community at large. As such, the contravention of the rights of individuals in the guise of national or local security should be highly discouraged.


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July 15, 2023

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