Seriously?! I have to take Business Law? Yikes!

Were the program designers feeling especially mean and nasty when they decided to throw Business Law into the prerequisite mix for a business degree? What could they have been thinking? More than that, how on earth am I going to survive?

Hang on. One question at a time…

Why take law?As a business person, or manager, will you have to deal with legal issues often? Well, let me answer that with some more questions: Will you buy or sell anything? Enter into other contracts? Have customers enter your establishment? Ouch, they tripped! Hire employees? Have those employees deal with customers? She did what to whom?! Sell products to consumers? Buy or lease land or buildings? Hmm. There were some yeses in there, I’m betting, and that’s just a very short list of activities that have legal implications.

And if that isn’t enough. Just for fun, do a Google search on ‘lawsuits against Canadian business” and see what comes up. Yup. Scary.

Part of being an effective business person or manager is knowing how the law affects your industry or area. Some of it is general, like contracts and torts (no, not a pie; a tort is a civil wrong for which people sue for compensation). A lot of industries or activities have a specialized side as well, like dealing with consumers. There are special protections for consumers that are not available for business customers.

Do you speak legalese? Law may seem to have its own language. In fact, there are English words that are used in a completely different way. Learning some of that language will help you work with your lawyer when you are dealing with property, contracts, law suits and the like.

How are you going to survive? Well, at the very worst, it’ll be over in 14 weeks. At best, you’ll love learning the secrets of our society. Weird way to think of it? Well, it is a bit like that. Just about everything in modern society has a legal side. Often, students learning law say they expected it to be a really dry subject, and instead found it fascinating. Some are amused to learn things like the exact moment they are locked into a contract – and what they may really owe if they go back on a contractual agreement.

Maybe that’s not what you’re worried about. Do you expect it to be a difficult subject to pass or get a good grade? There’s something about the subject of law that makes people nervous, like it must be very difficult to learn because you have to spend years studying law to become a lawyer. While that last part is true, law is just like anything – it’s learnable (is that a word?).

Learning law is a bit like learning math; you build on the basics and before you know it, you know it – lots of it! So, read through the materials assigned ahead of class; pay attention in class, take notes, work through the problems, and ask questions; think of examples in your own life for what you’re learning; email or see your instructor when you have questions you couldn’t ask in class; choose assignment team mates carefully; and study as you go through the term (when was the last time just cramming for a math exam paid off?).

I hope you enjoy your Business Law class – that it leaves you with a good understanding of some of the basic concepts and terminology, enables you to talk the talk with your lawyer, and at the end of 14 weeks you’ll be wishing there was a Business Law, Part 2!

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