What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules created by a government that regulates people’s actions and enforces punishment when they break them. The laws also serve a number of other purposes, including establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting rights. There are a wide variety of legal systems worldwide, with each one having different aspects and characteristics.

Law may be divided into many different branches, including contract law (which deals with agreements between two or more parties), criminal law (which involves penalties for breaking certain actions), administrative law (which deals with things like taxation and social security), and family law (which covers marriage and divorce proceedings, and the rights of children). The field also includes various fields of legal theory, such as jurisprudence, philosophy of law, and sociology of law.

The definition of law is an area of intense debate. For example, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham proposed a utilitarian definition of law, which is “commands backed by the threat of sanctions from a sovereign to whom people have a habit of obedience.” Philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedrich Karl von Savigny created more idealistic theories of law, which are often referred to as natural law. These theories suggest that laws should be based on morality and are unchanging.

Most countries have a written constitution that establishes the basic structure of their legal system. It may include articles on the separation of powers between the different branches of the government, and on how elections are conducted. It may also contain a bill of rights, which protects fundamental freedoms, and articles on how the government can manage public resources.

Throughout history, laws have been formulated by a wide range of people and institutions. For example, kings often chiseled the Code of Hammurabi into stone to set forth the basic laws that their kingdoms would follow. Later, philosophers and jurists wrote books that outlined the principles of particular legal systems. In some countries, culture is a major source of the laws that govern people, with ideas from family and social habits being a large part of what makes a law “right” or “wrong”.

Lawyers and other professionals who study law are often called lawyers or jurists. In the United States, attorneys who deal with transactional matters are known as “transactional” or “corporate” lawyers; those who go to court are called trial or “litigation” attorneys. In the United Kingdom, these professional are called solicitors or barristers. In addition to studying and arguing the rules of law, they may be involved in writing contracts, negotiating with clients, and filing lawsuits against those who break the law. They may even be involved in a wide variety of social issues, from defending immigrants to advocating for gender equality. These lawyers are also referred to as advocates, counselors, or protectors. They are usually paid by the person they defend or prosecute to take their side of the case. In some cases, they may earn a reputation for being “colorful” or “flamboyant”. These professionals are also sometimes called eloquent, persuasive, or articulate.