LAWS20059 – TERM 2, 2017
ASSESSMENT 1 – INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT
Marks: 40% of the overall assessment for the course
Submission: Online via Moodle
Format: One file in .doc or .docx (MSWord) format. Submissions in any other file format (e.g. .zip) will be treated as a non-submission.
Due date: 11:45 pm, 28 August 2017 (Monday week 7)
Word limit: Word limits are set out below for each part.
The university policy on extensions of time will be strictly enforced. Extensions will only be considered if made via the online system and must be based on medical or compassionate grounds. Any extension application should be made before the due date for submission. Medical conditions should be supported by a medical certificate, and, since students are expected to start the assignment early, temporary or last-minute conditions are usually not grounds for an extension. Professionals are expected to manage their time to meet their obligations, so work or personal commitments are insufficient grounds for an extension.
The university’s plagiarism policy will also be strictly enforced. If plagiarism is found, a minimum penalty is likely to be zero marks for the assessment. It could be worse.
As a junior lawyer in your place of employment, you have been asked by one of the partners in the firm to take on an extra case. You have been permitted to choose one out of four clients with which to work. Your overall task is to advise the client(s) on how to structure their business – either as a sole trader, partnership, joint venture, or company. You do not have to consider all four of these in your advice – which ones are relevant will depend on the clients’ circumstances. You should not consider trusts, as they are used primarily to minimise tax, and tax law is not part of this course. You should also avoid any advice on tax. The tax implications of business structures are more complicated than websites (such as the ATO) suggest, and since tax is not part of this course, you should avoid it.
In order to provide this advice you need to perform several sub-tasks:-
1. Choose one of the four clients described in the background section below.
2. Conduct research into the industry and/or product that your client wishes to participate in with respect to the type of business structures that are most prevalent in the industry. Your research should enable you to determine which structure(s) would best accommodate and suit your client’s needs.
3. Research the law relevant to your advice.
4. Provide a written report to your supervising partner on your research, weighing up the alternatives for your client and providing a recommendation.
5. Provide an oral advice on the law (in plain language) to the client in the form of a YouTube video, weighing up the alternatives and providing a recommendation.
Client 1: Alfred and Gina White
Alfred and Gina White are in their 50s with two adult sons. After a career as a military cook, Alfred wants to start and operate a small bakery in town, with his wife working the register and looking after customer service. Although Mr and Mrs White have worked hard and believe that their business venture will be successful, they are not only motivated by profits. They also wish to use their business to help train unemployed youth in the region.
Client 2: John and Stephen Green
Brothers John and Stephen Green have recently inherited $3 million from their father’s estate. They have always considered themselves quite business-savvy and have, in the past carried out renovations on their own properties. They wish to use their inheritance to purchase land and develop a group of units. They have approached the firm for advice on the most appropriate business structure through which this may be carried out.
Client 3: Penny Grey
Penny Grey has been a business client of the firm for more than a decade. She is currently running an outdoor fitness business as a sole proprietor and has managed to do this around raising a young family. Now that her children are older and she is looking to expand her business, she requires advice on her current business structure is still suitable for her needs.
Client 4: Jason Brown
Jason Brown is an emerging Australian artist working in digital media. He has invented what he believes will be ground-breaking software that enables improved resolution in drone photography. Although he has had positive feedback and interest from various firms, he wishes to control the rollout and marketing of his program. He approaches your firm for advice on the business structure that will best suit his needs.
Probably the biggest mistake students make in doing assignments is that they don’t study as they would for an exam. Instead, they start by reading the assignment and then try to look up only the parts of the unit that look like they are relevant to the assignment. The trouble is, you cannot say what the relevant parts of the unit are without studying the unit first. In real life you need to understand all the concepts so that you can identify the relevant issues when a client approaches you. So the best preparation for the assignment is simply to study the course properly. Understanding the modules preceding the assignment due date will be sufficient, but you can go beyond that if you wish. You will need a good conceptual understanding of the legal principles before you will be able to determine the appropriate business structure for your client. You will also need a good conceptual understanding to decide what to research and, more importantly, what NOT to research. And you will need a good conceptual understanding to report to your supervising partner and to formulate your advice to the client.
Clearly, you need to start work on your assignment early. This is not the sort of assignment that you can do within a day or so of the due date.
Choosing the client
Students are to choose only one of the above four hypothetical clients.
Conducting the research
Once the client has been chosen, you should carry out research into the most common types of business structure in the given industry for your particular client. Given the details provided, you would then decide the types of organisational structure that would be most useful and relevant to your chosen client. Part of this would require that you consider the rights and liabilities as well as the administrative costs which would be relevant for the business type you believe to be most pertinent. Also consider whether the likely size and turnover of the business will affect the business structure that should be chosen.
Reporting to the partner and advising the client
Both the report to the supervising partner and the advice to the client will contain three things, although they should be done in a very different way for the partner and the client.
1. The law relevant to the clients’ circumstances. They are making a decision about what business structure to adopt for their business, which may be very different from someone else’s business. You have to work out what is likely to be relevant to them, with regards to the given information. You should also make it clear why it is relevant.
2. Reasoning that weighs up the realistic options open to the client. Not all business structures will make sense for your client, but it is likely that at least one structure with unlimited liability and one limited liability structure will be relevant. The decision of which one to adopt depends on comparing the legal characteristics of each so that you and the client can weigh up.
3. A recommendation, and an explanation of why you chose that recommendation. This should flow logically from the weighing up process in 2 above.
Written Report to Supervising Partner
Your supervising partner is assumed to be an experienced professional, who probably knows the law you are reporting, although he/she may not know the detail and may not remember case names and section numbers, which you will have to provide in a Reference List. You can therefore speak in technical terms to the partner. The purpose of reporting to your partner is not to teach him/her the law they already know, but to convince them that you have done your research properly and that you have weighed up the alternatives sensibly and come to a sensible recommendation.
The report to the supervising partner should contain the three things listed above. You should also provide a reference list. You can assume that the supervising partner has read the record of the interview with the client, so you will only need to refer to the facts when using them in your reasoning.
Oral Advice to the Client
Having reported to the supervising partner, you should assume that you have been authorised to provide your advice to the client. It is the client who makes the final decision, not you, so it is your job to put them in a position to do that. You have to explain the law to them in terms that they can understand, give your reasoning weighing up the alternatives, and explain why you make a particular recommendation.
Your advice to the client should contain the three things listed above, but it will be expressed in more client-friendly terms and may need more explanation than your supervising partner required. It should not contain technical legal discussion, but it should contain explanations of the law in non-technical terms. This advice does NOT require a reference list as you will usually not be referring directly to cases and section numbers when speaking to the client, and in any event you should not be referring to anything here that is not already in the Reference List for Part 2. You may refer to a case to illustrate the point, in which case you would be explaining what happened in the case and why it helps the client to understand.
What you submit
You need to submit one file including:-
A Title Page – including your name, student number, and word count for Parts 1 and 2.
Part 1 – Investigation into real-world examples of the business structure or structures that are most common in the industry your client wishes to participate in. Your submission should provide some insight as to the possible reasons why for instance in one industry you will have many sole proprietors whilst in another industry relatively few. Remember that this is a law assignment so remember to consider these differences from a legal viewpoint. (maximum: 800 words, 10 marks)
Part 2 – Report to supervising partner (maximum: 1,000 words, 15 marks), plus a Reference List (not included in the word count).
Part 3 – Link to a YouTube video containing your advice to the client: (YouTube video maximum: 10 mins, 10 marks)
Presentation (5 marks)
A mark between 0 and 5 is available for the professional qualities of your work.
For written presentation, structure and formatting with consistent headings, fonts and page numbering, spell-checking, logical flow of explanations, conciseness, relevance and general readability are all important. Perhaps the key factor in making your report readable is logical flow and relevance, not visual appearance. Your assignment must be expressed in your own words. You will not receive marks for copying slabs of text (even if they are referenced) if there is no genuine attempt to summarise and demonstrate their relevance to the clients’ issues. Referencing must be in accordance with the Guide to Legal Citation linked on the moodle site. You should only include references in the list that you actually refer to in the report. The Reference List should NOT contain every publication you looked at in your research. Citations in footnotes or endnotes are not included in the word counts, but substantial text in footnotes or endnotes is.
For the video presentation, logical flow and relevance are also relevant, but you must avoid things like poor audio quality, noise in the background or foreground, poor diction that cannot be understood, low volume that is hard to hear, etc. If the video is not up to professional quality the first time you record it, do it again. It’s only 10 minutes.
You should also present yourself in a professional manner, neatly dressed, properly groomed and tidy. Imagine that this is a job interview – which it could be, because if you do a good video, you can use it a part of your portfolio when applying for a job.
All parts of the assignment will be marked in accordance with the university’s Grades policy. The following marking rubric incorporates that policy.
GRADE MARK CRITERION
HD 85%+ Demonstrates imagination, originality or flair, based on proficiency in all
the learning outcomes of the unit; work is interesting or surprisingly
exciting,challenging, well read or scholarly.
COMMENT: Here, the student will have done everything well, provided
some original insights, and formulated their answer in a tight, efficient,
thoroughly professional manner. The argument for the recommendations in
Parts 2 and 3 will have a strong logical flow which is supported by the facts
and the research. It will also be convincing, such that a client would not
only embrace the recommendation but also clearly understand why it is
D 75-84% Demonstrates awareness and understanding of deeper and less obvious
aspects of the unit, such as ability to identify and debate critical issues or ideas to new situations, and ability to invent and evaluate new ideas
COMMENT: Similar to a C, but for a D the student has identified issues
specific to the client’s situation that are insightful and not obvious.
C 65-74% Demonstrates ability to use and apply fundamental concepts and skills of
the unit, going beyond mere replication of content knowledge or skill to
show understanding of key ideas, awareness of their relevance, some use of
analytical skills, and some originality or insight.
COMMENT: True learning involves not only knowing principles or
concepts but also the ability to apply them to a real life situation. This will
be revealed in choosing what is relevant and making a logical argument
towards a recommendation appropriate to the client’s circumstances. The
level of research in part 1, the law considered in Part 2 and the argument
and recommendations in Parts 2 and 3 should have a consistent thread.
P 50-64% Demonstrates the learning outcomes of the unit, such as knowledge of
fundamental concepts and performance of basic skills; demonstrates
sufficient quality of performance to be considered satisfactory or adequate
or competent or capable in relation to the learning outcomes of the unit.
COMMENT: Students who get a mark in this range usually demonstrate
some knowledge of principles and concepts, but do not apply them
consistently to the actual fact situation. Their answers often contain a lot of
regurgitation of law but very little application of it to the real life situation.
Recommendations are often generic (they could apply to any situation, not
specifically to the client’s situation) and are often just lifted from the
textbook or a generic website.
F 40-49% Fails to demonstrate the learning outcomes of the unit.
COMMENT: Students in this range usually make some effort to perform the
assignment task but fail to achieve what is prescribed for a P.
Low F 40% COMMENT: Students in this range usually fail to properly carry out the
instructions or perform the task specified in the assessment.