Thursday, September 29, 2011

Legal and Ethical Environment of Business

This course, also known as Business Law, was really a great class. It was hard, but not too hard. It was interesting, but not too interesting. Just kidding. It was just the right amount of interesting, though.

Here we learned the basics of the legal system. We talked about the differences between civil and criminal proceedings. In criminal proceedings, to be convicted, it has to be beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution has to make the tough case. In civil litigation, however, it's a plaintiff rather than government prosecutor going after the defendant, and judgment is made on a preponderance of the evidence. Basically, throw the evidence in one of those Lady Justice scales, and whichever way it tips, no matter how slight, that's the side that wins.

We talked a lot about land and things like adverse possession, trespassing, and liens. Our professor told us about how he was able to get a piece of land for basically nothing by filing certain paperwork and paying the taxes on a piece of land for a certain number of years, and it became his for only the cost of the taxes. I'm not sure if that makes me want to be a lawyer or not want to be one. I think I'd enjoy doing stuff like that a little too much.

One of the things I liked most about the class was not related to the content (well, slightly related) but more to its administration. Specifically, the administration of tests. I generally subscribe to the belief that tests should be well written. Item analysis should be done to ensure questions are measuring what they purport to measure in a valid way. Garbage or joke answers should be avoided, because they don't add anything and throw off the answer statistics. The only point I can see to those obviously incorrect joke answers on a multiple choice test is that it may serve to reduce some test anxiety for some students.

So the questions on the tests for this class were terrible. But terrible in a good way. They were written by a random graduate assistant or something, not the professor. If they had actually be written by a lawyer that was worth anything, they would have been tight like I would expect them to be. Having such ridiculous questions actually served a purpose, though.

After taking the test, we would get our copy of the test back, and we could go back through everything that night and come back to class the next day prepared to fight for points. If there was a bad question, okay, when there was a bad question, you would be prepared to explain why the answer you chose was right or why none of the answers was correct or all of the answers were correct, or something else. With a page number and a quote from the book, you argued your case. If you had a preponderance of the evidence, you got the point back. Sound familiar? He gave us garbage so we would go through it, analyze every word on every line, become an expert on that item, and hold him accountable for the mistake in the way of compensatory points back.

I also had one of those real life versions of that nightmare that we've all had of showing up completely unprepared for a test. I don't know what was going on that I showed up to one of the midterms and wondered why so many people were there early sitting on the ground outside waiting for the previous class to finish up, until I saw everyone madly skimming through their textbooks. Oh, it's test day! Last minute cramming. I flipped my book open, and got in about 5 minutes' worth before the class started. Luckily, it was one of those classes where you could drop one test. Unluckily, that meant I'd have to take the comprehensive final, which I was looking forward to skipping and dropping the 0.

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