University of Technology Sydney

76105 Disruptive Technologies and the Law

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Law
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 70102 Foundations of Law OR 70120 Legal Method and Research
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject covers the impact that disruptive technologies are having on the type of work that lawyers do and the way that they do it. There are three powerful forces at play in this space.

  1. Modern technology is changing the way that society does business and the way we relate to each other. As a consequence, technology is changing the way that different types of relationships breakdown and how laws are broken.
  2. Lawyers are confronted by and need to find new and better ways to manage and make sense of huge quantities of digital information and electronic correspondence.
  3. Regulators and legal professionals are struggling to keep pace with innovation.

This subject explores these three themes.

More than ever before, lawyers need to be problem solvers. They also need to be adaptive and technically capable. FinTech and LegalTech fluency should be part of every law graduate's armoury and this subject enhances these attributes.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Identify how new technologies are changing, challenging and enabling the way that lawyers work.
2. Evaluate new risks, obligations and liabilities arising from the social and commercial use of new technologies, applying existing legal principles, ethical issues and reasoning to disruptive technology case studies.
3. Collaborate in groups and online to generate ideas and possible solutions to the challenges arising from new technologies.
4. Prepare and present lightning talks and case studies to the rest of the seminar, based on each of the 12 topics in the subject.
5. Explore and reflect on the way that disruptive technologies challenge regulators across global jurisdictions, in particular the requirements to know your client and anti-money laundering policies.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes which reflect the course intended learning outcomes:

  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility
    A capacity to value and promote honesty, integrity, accountability, public service and ethical standards including:
    a. An understanding of approaches to ethical decision making and professional responsibility;
    b. An ability to recognise, reflect upon and respond to ethical issues likely to arise in professional contexts in ways that evidence professional judgment, promote justice and serve the community; and
    c. An ability to reflect on and engage constructively with diversity in practice. (LAW.2.1)
  • Critical Analysis and Evaluation
    A capacity to think critically, strategically and creatively, including the ability to:
    a. Identify and articulate legal issues in context, including the skill of critical reading and writing;
    b. Apply reasoning and research to generate appropriate responses;
    c. Engage in critical analysis and make a reasoned choice amongst alternatives; and
    d. Think creatively in approaching legal issues and generating appropriate responses. (LAW.3.1)
  • Communication
    Effective and appropriate communication skills including:
    a. Highly effective use of the English language to convey legal ideas and views to different and diverse audiences and environments;
    b. An ability to communicate to inform, analyse, report and persuade;
    c. An ability to strategically select an appropriate medium and message;
    d. An ability to assess how messages are received and alter communication strategies accordingly; and
    e. An ability to be responsive and adaptive to the perspectives of collaborators, clients, counter parties and others. (LAW.5.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Strategy 1: Students’ Preparation for Learning

Students read cases, legislation and articles and listen to TedTalks and similar online resources before attending seminars to prepare for tutorial activities including collaborative discussion and applying game theory to the analysis of hypotheticals.

Strategy 2: Learning though Seminar Discussion and Lightning talks

Each week, students will engage in discussion and oral presentations (including lightning talks) on various aspects of legal issues arising from disruptive technologies, with immediate feedback.

Strategy 3: Online learning

Canvas is where students access material for self-directed learning and engage in student-led discussion on key topics. Students to share their questions and ideas on the open discussion forum (Canvas), with prompt guidance and feedback from the Subject Coordinator.

Strategy 4: Collaborative Problem Solving

All students will collaborate in problem solving exercises in the legal technology context, often considering problems from different points of view, including regulators, legal practitioners and disruptors developing new technologies.

Feedback will respond to students’ problem-solving strategies and modes of expression.

Strategy 5: Ongoing Feedback

Structured feedback is provided individually and to teams within the seminar group. There will also be formative assessment tasks, self-assessment tasks and oral presentations, as well as formal assessments. Detailed guidance as to the assessment criteria and the provision of timely feedback will form an important part of the learning process. Students will receive feedback in Week 2 on their (non-assessable) practice Lightning Talk presentations.

Content (topics)

  • Law and Technology: a history of Disruption
  • Paperless Workflows and Information Security
  • Information Governance and Privacy in a Big Data World
  • Forensics & Data Collection
  • Early Case Assessment from Analytics to Predictive Coding
  • E-Trials in Australian Courts
  • Bitcoin and other Crypto-currencies I – what is money?
  • Bitcoin and other Crypto-currencies II – taxing questions for regulators


Assessment task 1: Seminar attendance and presentations


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3, 4 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.3.1 and LAW.5.1

Weight: 20%

Nominally, 1000 words

Assessment task 2: Research Essay


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.2.1, LAW.3.1 and LAW.5.1

Weight: 40%

2,000 words


The assessment criteria feedback sheet will be provided in the Learning Guide. The criteria are as follows:

  • Clear statement of argument and plan
  • Identification of relevant issues in the context of the subject themes.
  • Correct and persuasive application of rules and case law
  • Development of a sustained argument
  • Critical analysis, evaluation and original insight
  • Reaching logical and supported conclusions
  • Succinct plain English academic expression
  • Footnoting and bibliography in accordance with AGLC (3rd ed)

Assessment task 3: Take home exam


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.2.1, LAW.3.1 and LAW.5.1

Weight: 40%

2,000 words in total. 500 words per response to each of the 4 problem-solving exercises.

  • Identification of relevant issues in the context of the subject themes;
  • Application of rules and case law;
  • Critical analysis, evaluation and original insight; and
  • Academic writing and plain English expression