BUS 263 Memrise course

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Memrise is a free online learning tool uses flashcards augmented with spaced repetition to boost the speed and ease of learning. I’m in the process of creating a Memrise course to supplement BUS 263 and help you to learn the legal vocabulary that is such an important part of this class. The course is under construction, and at present I have completed only the vocabulary for the first chapter, but I’ll be adding to it as the semester continues. Give it a try; I hope you’ll find it helpful:

Corporations and LLCs

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Last week we looked at sole proprietorships and partnerships, two forms of business ownership that share the advantages of easy formation and management flexibility, but which also share the disadvantages of a low ability to raise capital and unlimited personal liability. This week we turn to corporations and LLCs, which provide limited liability for business owners and make it easier to raise capital.

Corporations are a form of business ownership that allow for limited liability of the owners, known as shareholders. Corporations have some very significant advantages over sole proprietorships and partnerships. They have a perpetual duration, so that they can go on for generations, and they’re easy to transfer, so it’s simple to sell the business to a new owner. They also make it easy to raise a great deal of capital because shareholders aren’t liable for the debts of the business. Need more capital? Sell more shares. The biggest advantage of a corporation is limited liability. The owners of a corporation have some risk if the business fails—they can lose what they’ve invested—but their risk is limited. They can’t lose any more than they’ve invested and none of their personal assets are at risk. Corporations have the disadvantage of increased complexity, expense of formation, and regulation. To form a corporation, a business owner will usually hire an attorney to draft articles of incorporation to be filed with the secretary of state. Corporations also have a more complicated structure—shareholders are the owners of the corporation, but they don’t have direct control of the business. Instead, they elect a board of directors who hire corporate officers, and the officers, who are employees of the corporation, manage the company. To make sure that shareholders retain some control of their investment, a corporation is required to have a shareholders’ meeting once each year. The shareholders get a financial report and elect directors. If they don’t like the way the company is being run, they can elect a new board who will then hire new officers. That’s fine for a big corporation like Walmart, but what about a small, one-owner corporation? Seems kind of silly to send yourself notice of a meeting with yourself, then elect yourself to the board of directors so you can hire yourself as CEO, right? What if you just skip it? It’s not like you’re going to sue yourself in a shareholder’s derivative lawsuit, right? If the corporation gets sued, however, a plaintiff’s attorney may ask for minutes of annual meetings, and may ask the judge to rule that the business is a sham corporation and to pierce the corporate veil, holding the owner personally liable and removing the limited liability that was one of the main reasons for creating a corporation in the first place.

Almost every textbook warns of the dangers of double taxation for a corporation. While it is technically possible, in practice, it doesn’t happen much and is usually the result of poor tax planning. Most small corporations are subchapter S corporations, which don’t pay any tax at the corporate level, and large corporations use the tax code to eliminate most or all liability. In 2010, GE had $14Billion in profits (not revenue!) and still paid 0$ in US corporate income taxes. Many large corporations pay an effective tax rate of 0%, and some corporations even manage a negative tax rate of as much as -58%.

Finally, we have the limited liability company, or LLC. An LLC combines the best features of a partnership and the best features of a corporation. Like a partnership, LLCs provide flexible management and have no requirement for an annual meeting. An LLC can be managed by its owners (called “members”)—like a partnership, or managed by professional managers—like a corporation. Most importantly (as you’ve probably guessed from the name), LLCs provide their owners with limited personal liability. LLCs also have great flexibility when it comes to taxation. They can either be taxed as partnerships, avoiding any risk of double taxation. However, if corporate taxation is more advantageous, LLCs can be taxed as corporations in stead. Not only that, but LLCs can change from year to year, depending on which type of taxation is better.

Weekly Round-Up

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Hi everyone. Hope you’re having a good holiday weekend. Here’s what we’ll be doing in class when we return:

  • In BUS 100-01, we’ll be discussing business law on Tuesday and Thursday. (Appendix 2 isn’t in your textbook, so click the link to download the pdf)
  • In BUS 100-80, we’ll discuss business ethics and social responsibility.
  • In BUS 263-01, we’ll look at constitutional law on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • In BUS 263-80, discuss business ethics.
  • In PRL 101, the final version of brief 1 is due on Tuesday. We’ll talk about technology and paralegals on Tuesday and constitutional law on Thursday.

Weekly round-up, August 31

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Here’s what we’ll be doing in class this week:

  • In BUS 100-01, we’ll talk about global trade on Tuesday and business ethics on Thursday.
  • In BUS 100-80, we’ll be wrapping up business and economics and moving on to global trade.
  • In BUS 263-01, we’ll discuss alternative dispute resolution on Tuesday and business ethics on Thursday.
  • In BUS 263-80, we’ll finish up court systems and start discussing alternative dispute resolution.
  • In PRL 101, the draft of our first brief assignment is due on Tuesday, when we’ll also discuss legal ethics and professional responsibility. On Thursday, we’ll look at paralegal workplaces.

Weekly round-up, August 24

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Here’s a quick round-up of what’s going on in class this week:

  • In BUS 100-01, we’ll form teams and begin our study of business on Tuesday and look at economics on Thursday.
  • In BUS 100-80, we’ll wrap up our goals matching discussion and start a discussion on business and economics.
  • In BUS 263-01, we’ll form teams and begin our study of law and legal reasoning on Tuesday and move on to court systems on Thursday.
  • In BUS 263-80, we’ll wrap up our goals matching discussion and start a discussion on law and legal reasoning and court systems.
  • In PRL 101, we’ll talk about the paralegal profession on Tuesday and start learning about legal research on Thursday.