This chapter provides an introduction to the legal environment of business. Knowledge of the legal environment of business is essential to successful business practices. This involves understanding what the law is, where it comes from, and specifically how it relates to business. Moreover, different philosophies of law exist. Approaching a problem from different perspectives allows for multiple outcomes to be explored. Additionally, when people approach the same problem from different legal philosophies, reasonable minds can disagree on the outcome. Familiarity with government structure and an understanding of rule of law are essential to successful business operations. Ultimately, businesspeople should be able to recognize legal situations, minimize liability exposure, and know when to consult an attorney.
As you embark on your study of the legal environment, try to remain oriented. Ask yourself questions like “Where does this piece of law fit in the business world?” and “Why is it important for me to know this?” Studying the law can, at times, seem like studying pieces of a very large jigsaw puzzle. You may not immediately see how individual pieces fit together, but with protracted study of law, it will become clear. Often, with that understanding, the depth of law becomes apparent.
Additionally, it is very helpful if you try to find contemporary examples of the concepts that are discussed in this book. When surfing the Internet, watching movies, or reviewing current events, try to “issue spot.” In other words, try to identify the legal issue raised by the particular problem presented. Try to figure out which jurisdiction would have authority over the issue. State government? Federal government? Both? Try to determine which type of law would control or be determinative of the outcome. Is it a statutory issue? A constitutional issue? A regulatory issue?
Also, try to ask yourself why the dispute was raised. Will the parties involved be able to work it out on their own? If not, why not? Has the issue entered into litigation? How could the issue have been avoided with better planning and greater familiarity with the legal environment?
This little game can give you practice in orienting yourself as you gain footing in the study of law and the legal environment of business. We wish you every success in your course!