Cornell’s New Certificate Program Teaches Essential Legal Concepts Every Business Manager Should Know

Released: 06/27/2017


Courses build legal acumen, confidence to navigate business law

Business managers, both in corporate settings and startups, make dozens of decisions with legal implications every day. Yet a recent CEB survey found that 60 percent of the middle managers who make the majority of those decisions don’t fully understand their legal consequences. That’s not just risky, it’s a major missed opportunity. Now, eCornell’s new executive certificate, Essential Legal Concepts for Business Leaders, brings fundamental legal knowledge to decision making, empowering professionals to pinpoint and plan for legal issues and work with legal counsel for the best business outcomes.

“Businesspeople don’t need to be lawyers, but they must know the legal effects of conduct, how to minimize risks, and how the law can create value in business. This certificate program provides a rare opportunity to learn on-the-job from leading academics and practicing lawyers with deep understanding and experience,” said Eduardo M. Peñalver ’94, Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.

The new certificate program contains four courses, each designed to be completed over two weeks in three to five hours per week. In the first course, Embracing the Basics of Business Law, students learn how to research laws and court cases related to their business, recognize the pros and cons of different business structures, and identify the legal duties they may have in their roles. From this foundation, students move to Structuring Business Agreement for Success, a valuable module introducing the structure and components of contracts and how to analyze them to negotiate successful business deals. In Exploring Specialty Areas of Law, students get a high-level review of unique legal issues related to employment, real property, taxes, startup financing, and litigation. From compliance to capital funding to legal ways to reduce business taxes, this module provides a perfect introduction to specialty areas of law. The final course is Working with Legal Professionals, in which students learn how to identify when legal counsel is needed, select a lawyer, and work effectively with lawyers as business partners.

The new Essential Legal Concepts for Business Leaders Certificate presents important knowledge for all professionals, but is especially relevant for mid-level managers in large companies and senior managers in startup organizations. The curriculum, developed by ten Cornell law professors and five practicing attorneys, provides rich legal insight students can use immediately in their jobs—enhanced by videos, downloadable tools, projects, and discussions. Students who complete this program receive a Cornell University Certificate and also may earn professional Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

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About eCornell
As Cornell University’s online learning unit, eCornell delivers online professional certificate courses to individuals and organizations around the world. Courses are personally developed by Cornell faculty with expertise in a wide range of topics, including hospitality, management, marketing, human resources and leadership.  Students learn in an interactive, small cohort format to gain skills they can immediately apply in their organizations, ultimately earning a professional certificate from Cornell University. eCornell has offered online learning courses and certificate programs for 15 years to over 130,000 students at more than 2,000 companies.