What Is Law?


Law, also referred to as the legal system, governs relationships between individuals and organizations. It consists of a series of rules established by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior, including punishments for violations. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. It can be categorized as civil, criminal or administrative law. Civil law, for example, deals with lawsuits between individuals while criminal law encompasses crimes against the state and other public interests. Administrative law includes the regulation of private businesses that manage services such as water, energy or telecommunications, or that provide a public service.

When people in a well-ordered society disagree, they turn to the law to settle their differences. For example, if two people claim ownership of the same piece of land, a judge can determine who has the right to it by applying the law. Laws also set out rights and responsibilities for members of a community, such as a requirement to wear seatbelts while driving. They can also protect people from unfair treatment by their employers, such as requiring a fair wage for workers or banning discrimination.

A wide range of disciplines study laws and how they work, such as legal history, philosophy and economic analysis. The precise definition of law has long been debated, and it is often viewed as a scientific concept based on predictions about human behavior. The field is dominated by lawyers, who have been called “the nation’s fourth branch of government” and who serve as mediators between individual citizens and their communities.

The subjects of law are numerous and diverse, ranging from labour law to intellectual property to immigration law. Some of these areas overlap. Labour law, for instance, is a broad area that covers tripartite industrial relations between employer and employee and the rights of trade unions. Intellectual property law is another broad area that deals with the ownership of ideas and inventions.

The law is constantly evolving to meet new needs and challenges, so lawyers must keep up with changes in technology and society. They must also be able to communicate the law in a way that is understandable to the general public. Whether it is through the media or in court, lawyers are responsible for making the law accessible to everyone. They must be able to explain complex legal concepts in a way that is easy to understand, and they must be able to handle disputes with integrity and independence. This requires them to be trained in a number of specific skills, including research and analysis, negotiation and mediation, and oral argument. Many lawyers are also required to have a thorough knowledge of the constitutions, statutes and case law of their jurisdiction. They may also need to have special qualifications for their practice, such as a master’s degree in a subject relevant to the legal field or an approved bar examination. Many countries have professional bodies that accredit qualified lawyers. These bodies usually have a code of ethics that lawyers must abide by.

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