Teaching ethics to future lawyers: Affinity’s new Law Panel Series covers important ground on law and ethics


On Thursday 15 March, Affinity Intercultural Foundation launched its new Law Panel Discussion series, which included panellists Professor Joellen Riley, Dean of the University of Sydney’s Law School and Professor Michael Adams, Professor of Corporate Law and Governance and former Law Dean of Western Sydney University.

The panel’s conversation was centered around the topic of ‘Teaching Ethics to Future Lawyers’ and was facilitated by Professor Mary Crock from the University of Sydney’s Law School. After a short speech from each panellist, the discussion was opened up to the audience for a short and engaging Q&A session.

Professor Adams began the discussion by talking about ethics as a complex area and bringing in the works of Aristotle as a point of reference.

He also discussed how technology has influenced what is acceptable within the legal framework and emphasised the need to distinguish between personal and professional ethics.

Professor Riley discussed the ways in which practicing lawyers and academics are responsible for grounding future lawyers with a solid foundation for their legal careers.

“Whether we are aware or not, those who are teaching lawyers about the law are always teaching an ethical framework,” said Professor Riley.

“One of the things lawyers teach their students is to suspend judgement until the evidence is assessed, as well as hearing the other side, removing ourselves as decision-maker & acting without prejudice.”

“The truth is our ultimate goal – open and rational inquiry can lead to this goal. We need to encourage future lawyers & people in general, to listen to the other side, refrain from jumping to conclusions & think from the perspective of the ‘other’, or many ‘others’.” she said.

Professor Crock ended her talk with an important piece of advice: “listening to both sides is a life lesson, not just a legal skill”.

Affinity’s next Law Panel Discussion event will be held on Thursday 12 July at 12:00pm to 1:30pm, with panellists Professor Tania Sourdin and Professor Michael Quinlan, Dean of Law from The University of Newcastle and The University of Notre Dame respectively. The panel will be discussing Diversity and the Australian Law School. Professor Mary Crock will be returning as the facilitator.