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Business 221: Business Law: Legal Terms and Concepts

Assignment specific research guide for the BUS 221 course.

Researching Business Law Terms and Topics

Most days you will be asked to come to a class understanding a list of topics and concepts. Some preparation readings will be suggested, but you have the option of using other sources. It is important that you come to class with an accurate understanding of the concept.

Make sure that you are using credible, reliable sources by reviewing the criteria in the 10 Ways to Evaluate Sources section. When searching online, you particularly want to pay attention to the authority, intent, timeliness, and objectivity. Make sure you can identify the creator and/or author of the website and that you understand the author's intent in posting this site. Be critical of the format and writing quality. Look for citations and/or links to case law. Avoid sites that have extensive advertising and use emotional or biased language.

Recommended Sources for Legal Topics

The 2nd edition of Black's Law Dictionary is available free online. The most recent edition is available in the library as a reference source during all business hours. You can find it in the Reference section.

Barron's Law Dictionary

Barron's Law diction is available for 3-week check-out from the library. Check the website for availability.

Cornell University Wex

Wex is a collaboratively-edited legal dictionary and encyclopedia, and the product of the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School. Wex is updated often to ensure that lawyers have the most up-to-date information.

Foundations of Business Law and the Legal Environment

This open source textbook can be downloaded, printed, and shared. This book will provide context and real-world examples for essential law concepts.

Glossary of Legal Terms

This glossary from the Administrative Offices of the U.S. Courts is not comprehensive, but does provide definitions for the most common legal terms.

Legal Information Institute

This site from Cornell University Law School publishes free materials that help people understand law. Their Wex Legal Encyclopedia is divided into six sections, including Business Law and Employment Law. You may need to browse all six sections to find your term.

SBA Resources

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a currated collection of resources concerning, advertising, employment, finance, intellectual property, privacy, environment and more.

Pulling It All Together

You may have to search three or four sites in order to develop a thorough understanding of the topic or concept assigned. Compare the information you find in multiple sources. Look for information that overlaps and information that varies. If a segment of information is only included on one site, attempt to verify that information through citations and source links.

When you think you understand the topic, see if you can write a one sentence definition in your own words. Once you have that down, see if you can expand the definition to a paragraph explaining the concept in natural language.

Try using a tool like Quizlet to create a set of study flashcards using your natural language definitions.

10 Ways to Evaluate Sources

Consider these criteria when selecting sources. Make sure you choose a source that is credible, objective, and thorough.


When was it written? Is it recent enough to be relevant?


For whom was it written? Is it too complex or too simple?

 Peer Reviewed

Approved by other experts? A scholarly source?

 Format & Writing Quality

Well written? Does it use good spelling and grammar?

 Authority of Author

Is he or she an expert? What is his or her background, education, etc.


Does the author intend to inform or persuade the reader? What is the goal of the source?


Is the scope of the source appropriate? Does it match your topic?

 Reputation of the Publisher

How long has the publisher been in business? Are they highly ranked?

 Objective or Subjective

Is the author presenting information or drawing conclusions for you? Is the language neutral or emotional?


Does the source present multiple sides of an issue? Does the author have an agenda?