The Role of Legal Studies in the Business Curriculum

Authors: Jonathan Barrett, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Abstract: The study of law provides benefits for society in general (empowered citizens), individual business students (intellectual development), and, in particular, those students’ employers (the potential for legally-astute employees). Despite these important benefits, demand for non-vocational law courses is dampened by three key factors. These are: the instrumental nature of business education, which has the effect of distancing law from its social and ethical context; the spill-over from the doctrinal approach to vocational legal studies; and the generally Abstract nature of legal pedagogy. Alternatives proposed for overcoming these problems and gaining the consequent benefits include: full integration of legal studies within the business curriculum; better communication of the relevance of the law to business students; and appropriate pedagogical reform.