BUS 200-01 

(formerly known as Introduction to Law, with either a BUS 200 or POLS&200 number for the course)

Winter Quarter, 2010, North Seattle Community College

POLS&200.01    10am – 10:50 am daily, Room IB-3315, Item # 4159 

Instructor: Larry Hopt, J.D.

Instructor’s Office: IB 2417B This is in the Business, Engineering & Information Technologies (BEIT) Division, on the second floor of the Instruction Building .

Phone: 528-4529   There is Voice-Mail if I am not able to answer when you call. I try to check this daily, although I do prefer e-mail messages if possible.

FAX:  (206) 527-3735  Note that this is the fax machine for the whole Business & Engineering Technologies Division, and your message will NOT be private.

(That is a small “L” before the “hopt”)      I prefer e-mail over phone messages, if you can.  Also, NOTE that e-mail messages through the college will NOT be private, as network technicians etc. have access to e-mail!! 

There will be a course website where you can access an electronic copy of this syllabus, as well as copies of various project assignments.  However, I will have to update this for you in class, as the college has recently migrated from the previous server, and I will have to get the new URL for you!

Office Hours:   Mondays 2 - 4 pm
                     Wednesdays 2 - 4 pm
However, I am in my office quite often during the week, so, please let me know ahead of time (e-mail?), if you can, that you are hoping to meet with me.  Also, I sometimes have to attend college meetings that are scheduled during my regular office hours.  If I am not able to answer your questions by e-mail, I will be happy to meet with you in person if you need, at my office here at the college, if you let me know when you are available during the week (or on the weekend, if I am in town).  Send me an e-mail message!

Text:   Understanding the Law (5th Edition – 2008) by Donald Carper, John McKinsey & Bill West, published by Thomson/South-Western/West Publ. Co.  It is available at the NSCC bookstore, and through on-line bookstores.  The ISBN 13# is 9780324375121.  Used copies are just fine!!

TRANSFER?? This class transfers to the University of Washington. Other four-year colleges and university may prefer a different law class. Be sure you are in the right class for your transfer needs!

INSTRUCTOR BIO:  I have been involved in one aspect or another of law for over thirty years.  I worked for the US Forest Service during college doing surveying work, primarily for road right-of-way issues, and property exchanges between the government and private owners.  I worked for a savings-and-loan association for a couple of years after graduation from college, working on real-estate loans for residential and commercial projects.  While attending law school I worked for the King County Real Property Division on a variety of projects, including the negotiation for the Burlington-Northern transfer to the county of many miles of the Burke-Gilman trail extension of railroad right-of-way parcels.  I practiced law for a number of years, doing many real-estate deals including commercial leases, real-estate tax issues, wills & trusts, probate of estates,  ownership disputes, business entities (corporations, partnerships, LLC’s, etc.)  I taught at the University of Washington School of Business for two years prior to joining the NSCC faculty. I have been a full-time faculty member at North Seattle Community College since 1987.

READING REQUIREMENTS:  All students are expected to keep up with the reading for this class.  We will have at least 100 pages of reading each week, counting the text, current law cases and other materials.   There will be numerous articles and books to refer to.  Therefore, a facility in English speaking, listening, reading and writing will be essential to successful completion of this class.

COURSE OBJECTIVE: The objective of this course is to acquaint the student with fundamental legal concepts, structures and functions of the American legal system. We will examine the role of law, and the "evolving" nature of law as it relates to our society, and especially how it affects each of our lives on a daily basis. We will look at the legal system as a framework for the avoidance of problems in the future; and for resolving problems that inevitably arise in a complex society. This course is not intended to make the student into a lawyer, and cannot be an in-depth examination of all the topics to be introduced.  It is intended to provide an overview of the legal system so students know where to look to find basic info, and how to contact legal professionals when they need help.


Outcome 1. Think critically in reading and writing.
Outcome 4. Access, evaluate, and apply information from a variety of sources and a variety of contexts.

APPROACH: We will approach the law from several points. We will use the text as an introduction to topics. We will then look at direct sources of information, such as actual cases reported in the "case reporters," and state and federal statutes, and look at sources of information available on the Internet. We will complete a set of "outside class" assignments such as going to see a trial in action, investigating a law library, interviewing an attorney, etc.


1.     Terminology. Law has a language all its own. As you read through a chapter, write down each word that is "new" to you. Write down in your own words what you think it means. Check the glossary at the back of the book to see if that matches your definition fairly well, or with a law dictionary (like Black’s Law Dictionary, in the NSCC library). See if you can write a sentence using the new word that makes sense. This will help you develop a mastery of the terminology.stery of the terminology.

2.     Questions and Problem Cases. At the end of each chapter there are a series of sample cases or questions. See if you can answer them. Check with other students in class to see if you are in agreement. Some of these cases are based on real cases. Compare your analysis with how the court ruled.

3.     Study Groups.  Many students find it helpful to have a weekly group get-together at the library or a home, to review the reading or class discussions to gain a deeper understanding of the materials, or to watch law-related movies and have some popcorn! 

4.     Internet Searching.  We will look at a variety of internet sites for information on legal topics.  A couple of sites to start with are:  

POLICIES:     You have a variety of ways to earn points towards your final grade in this class. Please take a look at the grading summary on the next pages. Note that every student needs to complete a number of short projects in order to
pass this class – if you just take the exams you will probably not pass!

EXAMS.  You will have a series of "chapter" exams following each of the major topics covered in class. You can work on these together.  (400 points, or 40% of the total possible points for the class)

IN-CLASS EXAM.   The last exam is a cumulative exam.  In order to master the material in this class, much study, completion of homework, consistent attendance and participation are required.  The final exam is a good indicator that you have minimally performed these functions, you have an understanding of the important concepts of this class, and that your work has been your own.  You should review each chapter in the book, all handouts from the instructor, and all of the student presentation handouts.

The final exam will be in-class, with no opportunity for you to talk or compare notes with other students, although it will be open-book and open notes.  You will need to have done all the research needed to answer all the questions on the take-home exams, AND you will need to put in time reviewing at the end of the class, to be fully prepared for the last exam.  You will need to score at least a minimum of 70% correct on the final exam, in order to get credit for this class.  (the exam is 300 points possible, or 30% of the total possible for the class)





Frequently asked questions: 

Answer:  No. 

Answer:  Not unless the final exam score raises the total for the whole course to at least 67%.

(Your overall score for the course must be at 67% or above, and your final exam must be at 70% or above, to get credit for the class.)

CLASS PARTICIPATION.  Students are expected to participate regularly in class sessions.  There will be a sign-in sheet distributed in some class sessions - you must sign in as evidence of your presence and participation in the class.   You may also be asked to give short explanations to the class on legal topics assigned by the instructor. (50 points possible - 5% of the grade)

SHORT IN-CLASS PRESENTATION.  Students will make a short (approximately 10-minutes) presentation in class on a law subject which is of particular interest to them.  Students may work on their own, or in two-person teams for the presentation.  These presentations will begin in WEEK 3, and continue through the quarter (50 points – 5%  percent of the grade for the class).

PROJECTS. Independent student projects account for 20 percent of the grade for the class - i.e., 200 points out of the total 1,000 possible. Look below for a "menu" of many possible short activities and projects that you are free to choose from.  If there is something you are particularly interested in as a special project, let me know and I will work with you to try to accomplish that during the quarter.  Instructions for each of these projects are posted below, by the website links.  You should plan on turning in one or more of these projects each week during the first few weeks.   The deadline for projects to be turned in is:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010, in class



                                                  POSSIBLE  POINTS – Actual vs Possible
Chapter Exams - Total                                          400 _____

Final Exam
Monday, 3/22/10                                                  300 _____

Class Participation                                                  50 _____

In-Class Presentation                                              50 _____

Projects -  Choices (PICK ANY FOUR):
1. NSCC/local Library        50 _____ 

2. Movie Review                50 _____  

3. Law Articles                   50 _____ 

4. Law Library                    50 _____

5. Attorney Interview          50 _____   

6. Paralegal Interview         50 _____

7. Judge Interview              50 _____

8. Book Review                  50 _____

9. Court Visitation              50 _____

10.Your Own Project          50 _____    


TOTAL EARNED:                                                                _____ (MAX 1,000)

                                                                                                GRADE: _____

NOTE:  Deadline for all projects to be turned in is: 
Friday, February 12, 2010, in class





At the end of the quarter, your total score will be compared to the following table to determine the grade you have earned for the class. This scale may require higher scores than other classes you have taken or are taking now. This reflects the fact that many of the exams/projects in this class are "take-home," and "open-book" in nature.

Percentage 4.0 Grade Scale

96 – 100%       4.0
95                    3.9
94                    3.8
93                    3.7
92                    3.6

91                    3.5
90                    3.4
89                    3.3
88                    3.2
87                    3.1

86                    3.0
85                    2.9
84                    2.8
83                    2.7
82                    2.6

81                    2.5
80                    2.4
79                    2.3
78                    2.2
77                    2.1

76                    2.0
75                    1.9
74                    1.8
73                    1.7
72                    1.6

71                    1.5
70                    1.4
69                    1.3
68                    1.2
67                    1.1           (No credit is given for ending scores with less than 67%.)

Winter  Quarter 2010 – BUS 200-01

Projected Schedule – Note this is the tentative schedule for Class Topics, and it may have to be adjusted due to availability of guest speakers, instructor absence for illness or CLE seminars, etc.

of text to Read/Prepare:

WEEK 1   1/4 - 1/8/2010 
Chapter 1, Introduction to Law
Chapter 2, US Constitution (begin)

     1/11 to 1/15
Chapter 2, US Constitution (continue)
Chapter 3, The Court System

     1/18 - 1/22
Chapter 4, Attorney-Client Relationships & Settling Disputes
Chapter 5, Administrative Law
(NOTE – No Class on Monday, 1/18 – Martin Luther King Day)

WEEK 4     1/25 to 1/29
Chapter 6, Crimes
WEEK 5    2/1 - 2/5
Chapter 7, Torts
Chapter 10, Vehicles
(NOTE:  Deadline for projects - Friday, February 12, 2010) 

WEEK 6    2/8 - 2/12
Chapter 8, Contracts

WEEK 7    2/15 to 2/19
Chapter 9, Family Law
(NOTE – No Class on Monday, 2/15 – President’s Day)

   2/21 to 2/27
Chapter 11, Renters & Landlords
Chapter 12, Home Ownership

WEEK 9    2/28 to 3/6
14, Wills, Trusts & Probate

WEEK 10  3/7 to 3/13
Chapter 13, Employers & Employees
Business Organizations

WEEK 11  3/13 to 3/20
Catch-up & Review Week

Comprehensive Final Exam - Monday, 3/22/2010 -  10:30 to 12:30
Open textbook, open notes and handouts, NO Electronics

Appropriate absences during the quarter include ill health, work or family emergencies.  Consistent attendance and participation is important.  Part of your grade is dependent upon your participation in class, which will not be possible if you do not attend!  If you miss a class, it is your sole responsibility to obtain class notes and other lecture materials that may have been handed out, from other students.  Get the phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses of at least two students in the class so that you may share information.  In general there will be no makeup exams, and you must turn in your homework on the days they are due.  Any requests for changes on due dates must be made prior to the due dates.  The best way to reach me is to use my e-mail address.

Please respect the opinions expressed in class by your classmates.  If you disagree with someone's opinion, state so respectfully, and not as a personal attack.  

Turn off all computers, cell phones, pagers, PDAs, or other electronic devices at the start of class.  If you do have a device that goes off during class, please turn it off right away, and wait to respond to it after the class is over.   (NOTE:  Any student whose device goes off during class will be expected to bring “treats” for the whole class during the next class session.)

Please allow others to be able to hear what the instructor or class` participants are saying, by not engaging in "side" conversations.

Students are expected to comply with NSCC student conduct policy and procedures. Information on student responsibilities and rights is available at the following website: 

POLICY ON COURSE WITHDRAWAL: The instructor may initiate administrative withdrawals of students who do not come to class during the first week of the quarter in order to accommodate other students seeking entry into the class. Official withdrawal at other times of the quarter is the responsibility of the student.


If you need course adaptations or accommodation because of a disability; if you have emergency medical information to share with your instructor; or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated; please meet with your instructor as soon as possible.

ACADEMIC HONESTY: Academic honesty is highly valued at NSCC. A student must always submit work that represents his/her original words or ideas.   Any academic dishonesty will result in the exam or work being given zero credit, and the student may be dismissed from the class or the college.


1. Having a tutor or friend complete a portion of your assignment.

2. Having a reviewer make extensive revisions to an assignment.

3. Copying work submitted by another student, or giving another student your work to copy.

4. Using information from online information services without proper citation.

5. Taking exam answers from another student’s paper.

6. Using materials not allowed, to answer exam questions.

EXAMINATION CONDUCT: Students are expected to complete examinations without the unauthorized use of reference materials, notes, or classmates, unless with permission of the instructor.

CLASSROOM DIVERSITY STATEMENT: Respect for diversity is a core value of NSCC. Our college community fosters an optimal learning climate and an environment of mutual respect. We, the college community, recognize individual differences. Therefore, we are responsible for the content and tone of our statements and are empathetic speakers and listeners.

RESPECTFUL AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT: The instructor and student share the responsibility to foster a learning environment that is welcoming, supportive, and respectful of cultural and individual differences. Open and respectful communication that allows for the expression of varied opinions and multicultural perspectives encourages us to learn freely from each other.

FRAGRANCE POLICY: Students are encouraged to refrain from wearing heavily scented products during class sessions, since some individuals may experience chemical sensitivities to fragrances that interfere with their learning.


Students are encouraged to seek campus support services when necessary to support their learning and academic progress. Refer to student handbook, brochures/flyers, or college website for information about:

Educational Access Office (accommodations)

Tutoring Services


LOFT Writing Center Plus


Women’s Center

Multicultural Services Office



Study Tips for the First and Second Week of Classes

North Seattle Community College Counseling Center

Lydia Minatoya, Ph.D.


1.     Read the syllabus for each class you are taking.  In the syllabus, the instructor tells you what assignments you must do, by when.  The syllabus provides information such as: how the instructor will arrive at your grade, how to contact your instructor if you have any questions about assignments, and guidelines for behaviors your instructor expects.  Let your instructor know immediately, if you are unclear about any item on the syllabus or if you have special needs or situations (such as a disability, or a job, family situation, or bus commute that may occasionally make you late).

  2.     Do not miss class!  If an emergency arises, e-mail the instructor before the class and explain why you will miss and when you will return.

  3.     Smile and make friends with your classmates so you can share notes and ask each other questions about assignments.  Consider forming a study group.

  4.     Try to study on campus, where there are fewer distractions, so that when you go home you can relax and pay attention to other things and people in your life.

  5.     Study every day.  Take notes on what you are reading so you will have a summary (and less to review) when the test comes around.

  6.     Break big assignments into smaller tasks.  This makes it easier to start.  Study for thirty minutes, take a five-minute break, and go back for thirty minutes more. When memorizing (vocabulary lists, formulas, etc.) break lists into shorter lists of three or four concepts/vocabulary words.  Learn them, take a break, and learn four more.  If you try to learn a long list all at once, you may remember the first four items and the last three, but everything in between will likely be a blur.

  7.     Plan some leisure time everyday (aim for one hour per day) and every weekend (aim for a three to four hour block) to do something you enjoy!  It is easier to study when you know you have a break scheduled and it is easier to relax and enjoy yourself when you know you have completed some of your homework.

  The NSCC Counseling Center helps students identify careers, pick programs of study, strengthen study skills, manage time and stress, deal with depression, confront prejudice and learn other student success skills.

IF you are feeling depressed – PLEASE see a counselor at the Counseling Center – they have helped many students over the years!!