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Introduction To Business Law In The College Classroom
Exploring Business Law as a foundation for private enterprise in the college classroom can be quite a challenge for both teacher and student. Students find the legal environment puzzling and wonder how it applies to their career. Discovering the importance of law and how it applies to business can make the difference between successful leadership and poor management which fails to prevent costly consequences due to unforeseeable application.
For example, Employment and Trade laws are two areas of knowledge leading to ethical management as it requires implementation in daily business practice. The law reaches into every aspect of running a business. It encompasses training, hiring, payroll, marketing, and much more. The inability to foresee legal issues and compliance can greatly impact a company.
Teaching students to understand the basic role law plays as a foundation for business practice will equip them to successfully lead and manage, knowing how to structure a lucrative business and avoid costly legal expense.
Allowing students to take a greater role in teaching topics increases their understanding, introduces them to new concepts and terms, and fosters empathy among peers. Additionally, it opens their mind to different learning perspectives as they are responsible for teaching their knowledge of the topic in the classroom.
Teachers can use the class exercise as a review afterwards. Student evaluations are always higher towards the end of the course when interactive learning activities are included in a curriculum.
Resources for Teaching Business Law
Making Business Law Applicable To Real Life
As an instructor, I find students enjoy learning through activities requiring participation and interaction with others. Research proves students retain 90% of their learnings overtime when they teach the subject themselves. When visuals and interaction is required, groups remember almost 70% over a longer period. These statistics support such teaching methods as icebreakers, group projects, team building and role-play in any classroom or workshop.
Therefore, when it comes to teaching Business Law I find it beneficial to incorporate one class session holding a mock court trail. After reading the chapter, during which a sample Complaint is studied and the basic terms related to Litigation are learned, we move forward with studying the legal process of pretrial and court trial and practice assigned roles.
Following is an overview of the Litigation process (see table following for detailed steps):
- Plaintiff files Civil Action against the defendant
- The plaintiff establishes a case or controversy exists, requiring a resolution on his or her behalf
- Long-arm statues are limited by defendant's sufficient minimum contact with the state
As the group begins to research and learn their roles, communication improves and those who are normally passive learners begin to contribute. Allowing students to take an active role is much more rewarding and increases interest in the subject matter.
Courts and Dispute Resolution
1. Plaintiff files complaints
2. Complaints and summons served on defendant
3. Defendant files motion or answer with possible counterclaim and defense
4. Court rules on motions
5. Plaintiff files reply to answer
6. Attorneys conduct discovery procedures
7. Parties may file motions for summary judment or judgment on pleadings
8. Court conducts pretrial conference
Source: The Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business, McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York, 2013
The Perjury Admonishment 'Voir Dire"
This oath requires jurors to "tell the truth" when answering questions asked about qualifications for serving in the case.
Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will accurately and truthfully answer, under penalty of perjury, all questions propounded to you concerning your qualifications and competency to serve as a trial juror in the matter pending before this court, and that failure to do so may subject you to criminal prosecution?
Test Your Knowledge!
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The Importance of Role Play
Soliciting volunteers for the court trial requires little effort since most students find the opportunity to reenact a trial exciting. I have discovered many students have natural acting talent and thrive under the pressure of performing in front of their fellow classmates.
The following roles will be required:
- Lawyers (two: plaintiff and defendant)
- Jurors (six to twelve)
Instructors or facilitators should assist the students by preparing and explaining the purpose of the activity and the court process. Stress the importance of student preparation for roles and the need to understand the entire court proceedings. Require the volunteers to use correct legal terms in their presentations and arguments.
Regarding the terms, I find it useful to provide students with a summary of possible legal language along with the definition. Most course textbooks have them within the appropriate chapter and in an appendix glossary. Direct students to these tools, the individual study will reinforce terminology and application.
The Teacher's Role
The instructor plays the role of a facilitator during this mock trial. Standing by to feed legal law usage and terms to students makes them relevant. Guiding the group through the process without actually performing their roles is important. However, if necessary teachers may have to step in and fill a role. Providing feedback at the end of the activity is vital and reinforces the learning activity.
Transforming the classroom into a courtroom creates a realistic setting and adds to the learning enjoyment. I have found interesting props at consignment shops, but students often bring in or create their own. Again, the knowledge gained through this entire experience is valuable.
- Robe for Judge
- Uniform for Bailiff
- 2 - 3 small tables for parties
- twelve chairs for jurors; one extra for witness
- Lawyers are required to wear suits (preferably neutral colors)
- A sample Complaint: use one that is business related for learning purposes
Instructors must provide learners feedback that boosts interest and lessons the impression of being corrected. To promote a positive learning experience, I videotape the session and use it as a means of reflection afterwards (your mobile device works well for videotaping).
As students watch the tape, they usually discover areas needing improvement and either add or delete information to the trial as needed. Discuss the video and ask them how they would change scenes for better understanding. Gently guide them to areas needing improvement.
Students always report the mock court trial was a fun learning experience. They remark upon how the research, memorization and interaction forced them to learn the legal law application in business. It may require some work, but role play is definitely a successful learning tool in any classroom setting.