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WEEK 4Introduction to the Legal Environment of Businessby Rosemary Hartigan, J.D., M.A. and Paula O'Callaghan, J.D., M.B.A.Why should I care about the law?Why do businesspeople need to know anything about the law? Some people think of lawyers in business as a necessary evil. That may be true, because if everyone were scrupulously honest and had photographic memories regarding all statements uttered that could constitute promises, perhaps lawyers wouldn’t be necessary. But, alas, we are mere mortals with failing memories and sometimes failing ethics.Professor Hartigan's perspective on the roles of the lawyer and the managerHaving been on both sides of the fence as a lawyer and a product development and marketing manager, I have a bit different view of law than many lawyers. You might say it is a systems perspective. I believe that a lawyers’ role is to guide the manager in analyzing risk, but that it is the ultimate responsibility of the managerto make the final business call. Lawyers are inherently conservative when it comes to risk. That is our training and it’s our responsibility to accurately convey risks to the client. I’ve seen some businesses where the legal departments are allowed too much control over business decisions. Managers can’t abdicate responsibility for making the business call. This is one of the main reasons it is important for managers to have legal literacy. You need to know when you need legal advice; and then what to do with it. Sometimes basic legal knowledge is necessary on the front lines in dealing with customers and co-workers. Knowing something about the law can assist you in “prevention.” I hope that by equipping you with the skills of legal analysis you will be able to prevent lawsuits and other unpleasantness from becoming a distraction from your business. However, in many cases you will be the one who has to bring a legal related matter to closure. Perhaps you’ve taken over from an executive who has left the department or company and left behind a problem that requires a legal solution. Or, you may have done something that triggers a legal response from a customer or vendor. If you know the relevant legal rules for your area of business, you’ll know when it’s appropriate to involve legal counsel. Remember those critical thinking skills learned "way back" in Week 2? This week we will apply our newly honed critical thinking skills to legal matters affecting business. et’s begin with a basic overview about the two types of lawDifferences between civil and criminal lawAmerican society highly values ingenuity and entrepreneurship, but there are legal limits on the conduct of commerce. Some of those limits are statutory, which means a law-making body has enacted a specificlaw to regulate a specific activity (e.g. the Sherman Act statute regulating antitrust) and some are found in the common law (e.g. tort law imposing liability for an infinite variety of behaviors). Most of the legal limits on business fall into the category of “civil law.”