The Legal Environment of Business: A Critical-Thinking Approach/Book and Pocketutor

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9780132552332: The Legal Environment of Business: A Critical-Thinking Approach/Book and Pocketutor
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Taking a dynamic -- and very contemporary -- approach to Legal business studies, this text covers introductory topics, private law, and public law -- but offers an alternative to the traditional method of case analysis. It emphasizes the importance of incorporating a questioning dimension into legal reasoning -- one which involves critical thinking and the consideration of the impact of values (ethics) on the outcome being considered. It outlines an authoritative step-by-step model for critical thinking/ethical analysis, and gives students hands-on opportunities to develop these skills.

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About the Author:

Nancy Kubasek is a Professor of Legal Studies at Bowling Green State versify, where she teaches the Legal Environment of Business, Environmental Law, and an Honors Seminar on Moral Principles. For eight years she team-taught a freshman honors seminar on critical thinking and values analysis. She has published an undergraduate textbook titled Environmental Law, Fourth Edition (Prentice Hall, 2002) and more than 50 articles. Her articles have geared in such journals as the American Business Law Journal, the Journal of Legal Studies Education, the Harvard Women's Law Journal, the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and the Harvard Journal on Legislation. She received her J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law and her B.A. from Bowling Green State University.

Active in her professional associations, she has served as President of the TriState Regional Academy of Legal Studies in Business, and is currently the Vice-President of her national professional association, The Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB). Committed to helping students become excited about legal research, she organized the first Undergraduate Student Paper Competition of the ALSB's Annual Meeting, an event that now provides an annual opportunity for students to present their original legal research at a national convention. She has also published several articles with students, and has received her university's highest award for faculty-student research.

"The most important thing that a teacher can do is to help his or her students develop the skills and attitudes necessary to become lifelong learners. Professors should help their students learn the types of questions to ask to analyze complex legal issues, and to develop a set of criteria to apply when evaluating reasons. If we are successful, students will leave our legal environment of business classroom with a basic understanding of important legal concepts, a set of evaluative criteria to apply when evaluating arguments that includes an ethical component, and a desire to continue learning.

To attain these goals, the classroom must be an interactive one, where students learn to ask important questions, define contexts, generate sound reasons, point out the flaws in erroneous reasoning, recognize alternative perspectives, and consider the impacts that their decisions (both now and in the future) have on the broader community beyond themselves."

Bartley A. Brennan is an Emeritus Professor of Legal Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (B.S. International Economics); the College of Law, State University of New York at Buffalo (J.D.); and Memphis State University (M.A. Economics). He was a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps, was employed by the Office of Opinions and Review of the Federal Communications Commission, and worked in the general counsel's office of a private international corporation. He has received appointments as a visiting associate professor, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and as a Research Fellow, Ethics Resource Center, Washington, D.C. He is the author of articles dealing with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as Amended; the business judgment rule; law and economics; and business ethics. He has published numerous articles in such journals as the American Business Law Journal, University of North Carolina Journal of International Law, and the Notre Dame University Journal of Legislation. He is a coauthor of Modem Business Law (third edition). He has testified on amending the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act before the SubCommittee on International Economics and Finance of the House Commerce, Energy, and Telecommunications Committee.

M. Neil Browne is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Economics and Director of IMPACT, an Honors Residential Learning Community Centered Around the Principles of Intellectual Discovery and Moral Commitment, at Bowling Green State University. He received a J.D. from the University of Toledo and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He is the co-author of seven books and more than one hundred research articles in professional journals. One of his books, Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, Sixth Edition, is a leading text in the field of critical thinking. His most recent book, Striving for Excellence in College: Tips for Active Learning, provides learners with practical ideas for expanding the power and effectiveness of their thinking. Professor Browne has been asked by dozens of colleges and universities to aid their faculty in developing critical thinking skills on their respective campuses. He also serves on the editorial board of the Korean Journal of Critical Thinking. In 1989, he was a silver medalist in the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's National Professor of the Year award. Also in 1989, he was named the Ohio Professor of the Year. He has won numerous teaching awards on both a local and national level.

"When students come into contact with conflicting claims, they can react in several fashions; my task is to enable them to evaluate these persuasive attempts. I try to provide them with a broad range of criteria and attitudes that reasonable people tend to use as they think their way through a conversation. In addition, I urge them to use productive questions as a stimulus to deep discussion, a looking below the surface of an argument for the assumptions underlying the visible component of the reasoning. The eventual objectives are to enable them to be highly selective in their choice of beliefs and to provide them with the greater sense of meaning that stems from knowing that they have used their own minds to separate sense from relative nonsense."

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

As I sit down to write this preface to the third edition of The Legal Environment of Business: A Critical Thinking Approach, much of the country, indeed, much of the world, is still recovering from the shock of the attack on the World Trade Center. These events are so vividly etched in our minds, and so fresh, that it is hard to concentrate without having your thoughts drift back to the World Trade Center. However, as horrible as this tragedy was, one positive aspect of the aftermath has been a renewed sense of community in the United States, and the beginning of a greater degree of global cooperation than many have ever experienced. It is definitely a different world now than it was before September 1lth.

Thinking about the attack on the WTC in juxtaposition with thinking about this new edition, it strikes me that perhaps one of the reasons that we, the authors, are so excited about this book is that in addition to teaching our students the fundamental legal principles that are essential to their success in the business world, it will teach them the fundamental critical thinking skills that they will need to survive and thrive in whatever new world they are confronted with when they graduate. And it will provide them with a practical approach to ethics to help them make the many important ethical decisions they will confront in the future.

The authors are also excited about this new edition of the book because we believe it does something that no other textbook has tried to do, and that is, it helps students clearly see the links between the legal environment and all of the other core disciplines in business. Many of us have discussed the role of the legal environment with our colleagues in other disciplines, and we have talked about the need for an integrated curriculum. We believe this book, with its new feature, Linking Law and Business, is an important first step in creating a truly integrated curriculum.


Law can be conceptualized as either a set of rules or as a process whereby current rules have developed and new rules will evolve. This latter approach, which we will take in this book, sees law as an intricate, always incomplete tapestry, a piece of art with an identifiable, yet evolving, structure. It emerges and develops. This dynamic approach to the law as it relates to the business world is what our book hopes to encourage.

The readers of this book will typically be prospective managers of public and private enterprises. How can a text best prepare these future managers for functioning in the ever-changing global legal environment of business? Critical thinking skills are the essential ingredient for understanding current legal rules and making future business decisions that both comply with and contribute to emergent law. The importance of these skills for contemporary organizations has been recognized not only by educators, but also by those in the business community.

The initial motivation for this book was the authors' perception that there was no legal environment book available that explicitly and adequately facilitated the development of students' critical thinking skills. Teaching students in a systematic manner that developed their critical thinking skills required the use of an additional supplemental critical thinking textbook.

Some people may argue that merely using the traditional method of case analysis allows them to develop their students' critical thinking skills. The problem with such an approach, however, is that the case method focuses only on the students' analytical skills, ignoring the evaluative component that is really the essence of critical thinking. Another problem with the traditional method of case analysis is that it does not include an ethical component. To engage in critical thinking necessarily includes consideration of the impact of values on the outcome being considered.

The use of cases in the legal environment of business classroom, however, can provide an excellent opportunity for the development of students' critical thinking abilities when the traditional case method is modified to emphasize the development of critical thinking skills. So, the initial two authors of this text contacted M. Neil Browne, one of the authors of the best-selling critical thinking textbook, Asking the Right Questions (Prentice Hall, 6th Edition, 2001), and asked him whether he would be interested in collaborating on a legal environment of business textbook that incorporated the teaching of critical thinking skills. Because he has a law degree, and in fact, has written articles about the relationship between critical thinking and traditional case analysis, he was interested in the project.

The result of this collaboration is a textbook that explicitly lays out in the first chapter the critical thinking skills that the students are to acquire. It provides a modified approach to case analysis that gives students the opportunity to practice these skills throughout the semester, whenever they read either a case or an article containing legal analysis. Case questions that focus on various critical thinking skills appear after several cases throughout the book.

The feedback we received from the users of the first edition of this book told us that many faculty did in fact want to use a critical thinking approach, however, they did not want this approach limited to just the cases. Thus, an especially significant change to the second edition was the addition of critical thinking questions at the beginning of each chapter to get the students thinking critically about the material from the start.

The response to this change was positive, but some users still wanted more critical thinking. We struggled with how to balance the desires of some users to have more critical thinking with those of others who felt that we had already achieved a good balance. Then one afternoon, in the midst of along run with our editor, the answer came to us: a paperback guide to critical thinking, Asking the Right Questions About the Legal Environment of Business, that could be shrink wrapped with our text. Each chapter of the supplement, which draws heavily on the best selling Asking the Right Questions, explains in detail and models a different critical thinking skill. This exciting new supplement will be described in more detail in the next section of this preface.



This is the first legal environment of business textbook that defines critical thinking for the students and gives them the opportunities to explicitly work on developing those critical thinking skills. The critical thinking materials were developed by M. Neil Browne, a recognized authority in the field of critical thinking, who also has a law degree.

The model of critical thinking provided in the book is one that can also be easily adapted to essays, so that students can internalize the kinds of questions they ask when analyzing cases or an editorial in the newspaper.

The book was written in a manner that will give instructors maximum flexibility in terms of the degree to which they want to emphasize the development of the students' critical thinking skills. Faculty members who do not wish to emphasize critical thinking with their students, may simply instruct the students think about their responses to questions in the critical thinking boxes when they read the material, but then concentrate their class discussions on the substantive material in the text.

Those who want to maximize the development of students' critical thinking skills, have a plethora of options available with this text. Some of these options include the following:

  • An explicit critical thinking model explained in Chapter 1. The authors have modified the traditional approach to case analysis to incorporate some of the fundamental critical thinking questions. Chapter 1 explains this model in detail, and those emphasizing critical thinking skills may find it helpful to spend a significant amount of time discussing Chapter 1 and having the students apply the model it develops to cases in the subsequent chapters.

  • Critical thinking boxes at the beginning of each chapter and following selected cases. The beginning of chapter critical thinking boxes serve a dual function of introducing the chapter material in a more thoughtful and challenging way, while also providing another opportunity for the students to practice one of their critical thinking skills. Some of the cases are written in a manner that makes them an especially good vehicle for practicing one or two specific critical thinking skills. We have tried to take advantage of those cases by following them with appropriate critical thinking questions. Any of these questions should provide the basis for classroom discussion, or may be used for a written assignment.

  • Asking the Right Questions About the Legal Environment of Business. This exciting new supplement, introduced in the previous section, is designed to provide additional critical thinking material for those who really want to emphasize the development of the students' critical thinking skills. The supplement, which comes shrink wrapped with the text upon request, is adapted from the best selling critical thinking text, Asking the Right Questions 6th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2001), and may be read and discussed in class in its entirety, or any of the individual chapters may be selected to emphasize particular critical thinking skills. The supplement is written clearly so that it may be assigned to students for them to read independently to clarify aspects of the critical thinking approach that they may be having difficulty grasping. The book in some ways can almost serve as the student's personal critical thinking tutor, making the professor's job much easier!

  • The supplement cont...

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Nancy K. Kubasek
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