Legal Studies & Business Ethics

The Legal Studies and Business Ethics Concentration focuses on the social values, moral concerns, and legal considerations that are essential aspects of business decision making in our global market system. The courses students take in this program help them explore how responsible business leaders can engage ethically and effectively with diverse cultures, corporate stakeholders, government regulators, and legal systems.

Of special value to students seeking to broaden their business education, this concentration will help them acquire essential, non-quantitative reasoning skills that are required when leaders face difficult choices under conditions of empirical uncertainty and/or moral ambiguity – a frequent occurrence in fast-moving market economies.  Students pursuing this concentration will gain a number of analytic skills, including: identifying moral and legal issues hidden within complex, culturally rich fact patterns; reasoning from moral principles to specific ethical and legal conclusions; reasoning by analogy between like cases and situations; and arguing from authoritative rules and precedents to specific, logically consistent recommendations for action.

Four-course units are required for the concentration in addition to LGST 100 (formerly 210) or LGST 101.  Students should review the information below and consult with the concentration advisor to select the best electives for them, based on their interests in law, ethics, or both.

What type of student is this concentration a good fit for?

  • The Legal Studies and Business Ethics Concentration is appropriate for any Wharton student, regardless of background or career orientation. The Concentration will appeal to students interested in acquiring skill in analytical thinking and in solving complicated problems in complex or ambiguous settings, and to students interested in the creative structuring of business relationships. This includes but is not limited to students interested in the analytical modes of thinking about social policy and business issues utilized by lawyers, judges, regulators, and ethicists. The cases taught in law and ethics courses feature a host of real-world, specific problems that are often both complex and ambiguous. These cases require students to quickly identify critical problems hidden in complex social fact patterns, and to develop supportable solutions to these problems. Overall, this Concentration exposes students to the many, truly complicated ways that business is embedded within and interacts with the rest of society.  This exposure enhances students’ leadership perspectives, including the myriad goals that may be accomplished through the use of business techniques and structures.
  • With respect to qualities needed before undertaking the concentration, the department considers it to be our responsibility to help students acquire the qualities that they need to thrive.

Which course(s) can help students determine if this concentration is right for them?

LGST 1010: Law and Social Values is a good introduction to law-oriented courses and LGST 1000: Ethics and Social Responsibility is a good introduction to ethics-oriented courses.

What other resources/experiences can help determine if this concentration is the right fit?

Students are welcome to talk with members of our faculty.

What skills or knowledge will a student gain from this concentration?

Students who take legal studies and business ethics courses can look forward to acquiring useful skills and essential, highly practical knowledge on the legal and ethical environment of business, and desirable qualities.  These include:

  • Enhanced ability to think critically and analytically, especially in situations that have no clear answer (or that have more than one clear answer) and in which both information and time to think is limited.  Students repeatedly practice how to reason effectively and speak up persuasively in such situations.
  • Deeper understanding and knowledge of the structural ways that society controls and supports business activities. This includes the expectations that society has regarding how businesses should behave to be seen as responsible citizens.
  • Greater maturity of judgment. The case study method used in law and ethics courses generates a broader perspective on business and society. This includes deeper understanding of concepts such as responsibility and mutual respect as well as greater awareness of self in relationship to others.

Are there other concentrations or upper-level courses in other departments that would pair well with this concentration?

Legal studies and business ethics courses and the concentration work well with and complement almost any concentration and a wide variety of courses. Laws and ethical norms touch almost all aspects of business and society, providing students with fuller perspectives on business specializations.

Students are encouraged to review all legal studies and business ethics courses that touch on their area of interest. The range of such courses is broad – including constitutional aspects of business, diversity, the environment, gamification, human rights, numerous international subjects, the internet, negotiations, sports, and much more.

Some specific ideas with respect to other concentrations include:

  • Accounting—the CPA examination includes questions about law. Courses such as LGST 2020: the Law of Corporate Management and Finance and LGST 2230: Securities Regulation might be interesting.
  • Actuarial Science—the examinations administered by both the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society have legal and regulatory components.
  • Behavioral Economics—as with the law or with ethics, behavioral economics understands broader and more complicated incentives for individual and group behavior. Courses such as LGST 2120: Economic Analysis of Law and LGST 2270: Literature of Success might be interesting.
  • Business Economics and Public Policy—most law and ethic courses would complement the quantitative analysis of issues emphasized in BEPP. Courses such as LGST 2050: Law of Marketing and Antitrust, LGST 2080: The Law at Work – Employment Law for Managers, LGST 2110: Legal Aspects of Health Care, LGST 2150: Environmental Management – Law & Policy, LGST 2210: Constitutional Law and Free Enterprise, or LGST 2220: Internet Law & Policy might be interesting.
  • Environmental Policy & Management—environmental issues are intertwined with law. Courses such as LGST 2040: Real Estate Law, LGST 2150: Environmental Management – Law & Policy, or LGST 2210: Constitutional Law and Free Enterprise might be interesting.
  • Those concentrating in Entrepreneurship and Innovation might find courses such as LGST 2130: Legal Aspect of Entrepreneurship, LGST 2220: Internet Law & Policy, or LGST 2400: Gamification for Business interesting.
  • Finance—finance is heavily regulated and increasingly subject to social scrutiny; students who understand legal and social regulation have an advantage. Courses such as LGST 2020: Law of Corporate Management and Finance, LGST 2130: Legal Aspect of Entrepreneurship, LGST 2230: Securities Regulation, or LGST 2260: Markets, Morality & the Future of Capitalism might be interesting.
  • Health Care Management & Policy—health care is also heavily regulated and healthcare managers are presented with complex ethical issues. Courses such as LGST 2110: Legal Aspects of Health Care, or LGST 2300: Social Impact and Responsibility might be interesting.
  • Management—the study of management benefits greatly from an understanding of how the law and ethics control and support organizations and the interactions of business organizations with the rest of society.
    • Those concentrating in Multinational Management might find courses such as LGST 2160: Emerging Economies, LGST 2190: Law and Policy in International Business, LGST 220: International Business Ethics, or LGST 2240: Human Rights and Globalization interesting.
    • Those concentrating in Organizational Effectiveness might find courses such as LGST 2080: The Law at Work – Employment Law for Managers, or LGST 2210: Constitutional Law and Free Enterprise interesting.
    • Those concentrating in Strategic Management might find courses such as LGST 2050: Law of Marketing and Antitrust or LGST 227: Literature of Success interesting.
  • Marketing—courses such as LGST 2050: Law of Marketing and Antitrust or LGST 2220: Internet Law & Policy might be interesting.
  • Operations & Information Management—courses such as LGST 2130: Legal Aspect of Entrepreneurship or LGST 2220: Internet Law & Policy might be interesting.
  • Real Estate—real estate transactions often require constructing complex legal entities, as well as an understanding of the laws that give effect to the possession and transfer of property. Courses such as LGST 2020: Law of Corporate Management and Finance, LGST 2040: Real Estate Law, or LGST 2150: Environmental Management – Law & Policy might be interesting.

Student Profile: Austin Josiah

austin-josiahWhy did you choose this concentration?

I chose this concentration mainly in part because I wanted to balance out my other concentration in finance with a more qualitative field of study. Not only are the LGST classes that are offered interesting and informative, they also provide you with analytical skills and decision-making skills that will help you in any future business setting.

What was your favorite course in this concentration and why? 

Two of my favorite courses in my entire time at Penn are LGST courses. These are LGST 2070: Sports Business Management and LGST 291/2910: Negotiations. Sports Business Management piqued my interest because of my interest in the sports industry and shedding new light on the hows and whys of sports-based decisions. It further solidified my interest in a sports-related career. Negotiations was probably the most useful and applicable class I’ve taken at Penn because it has allowed me to stretch beyond what I thought I can do and learn real-life skills that I can take with me no matter what the future holds.

What course did you choose to take first in this concentration and why?

I chose to take LGST 2280: Sports Law because I heard great reviews about the professor and it was an interesting class about a field I had yet to delve into before. I had not fully decided on LGST as a concentration yet, but I knew that this class would be a great determinant to further pursue this as a concentration. It ended up being a wonderful class and had material I had never learned or thought about prior to the course.

What concentration-related skills have you used during internships or other work experiences? 

During my internship last summer, at Morgan Stanley I was in charge of garnering news articles concerning the wealth management industry and relaying the main points to my team. After completing a few LGST courses, I was thoroughly prepared to do this since I had analyzed many articles in these courses and was able to extract the main arguments quickly and effectively. I was also able to defend my position and opinions on these articles using relevant information which is a skill I gained in my LGST courses.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering this concentration?

I would tell a student interested in LGST as a concentration to take classes they believe they are not only interested in, but also will give them great tools and skills that will help them at a further point in time. LGST is not like math or science, so there are no theorems and formulas to study; however, they will have to use critical analyses to defend a position or make an optimal decision that solves a problem or maximizes utility for all parties involved. If they are seeking a more qualitative concentration, LGST is perfect.