What Is Law?


Law is a complex subject that shapes politics, economics, history and society in countless ways. It is a central topic of study for a wide variety of academic disciplines including philosophy, political science, economic analysis and sociology. Law also raises important and often difficult questions about equality, fairness and justice. Law governs relationships between individuals, businesses and government agencies. It relates to both the creation of rules to regulate behavior and the enforcement of those rules to ensure that society functions in a reasonably orderly manner.

While there is no single definition of law, a common view is that the term refers to the collection of rules and conventions recognized as binding on a community. These may be written statutes or customary practices enforceable by a controlling authority. The law is the discipline concerned with these rules, and its study is called jurisprudence.

Legal systems vary in how they formulate and enforce laws. For example, some countries have civil law jurisdictions where the law is largely created through legislative statutes, while others use a common law system in which judges’ decisions are considered law. In either case, all laws must be interpreted in light of social and cultural values, which are constantly changing.

The most basic aspect of law involves the right to a fair trial. The law also covers court administration and the evidence that can be presented to a judge or jury. Other fields of law include labour law, which studies the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union. Family law includes marriage, divorce and the rights of children. Criminal law deals with offenses against the state, which may result in imprisonment and fines.

Other important areas of law include immigration and nationality, family and corporate law. Jurisdiction refers to the territory over which a court has the power to decide a case. It may be federal, state or local, and it can be concurrent with another court if both courts have jurisdiction over the same issue.

To practice law, a person must be licensed by a governing body. Lawyers must meet certain qualifications, such as completing a legal education program that results in the award of a Bachelor of Laws or Bachelor of Civil Law degree, passing a bar examination and being formally admitted to the practice of law. In some countries, legal professionals are also required to have a high ethical standard as set out in professional codes of conduct. In addition, some countries require that lawyers be supervised by a government agency or independent regulating body. These bodies can oversee the legal training and career of their members to help maintain the integrity of the law. In some cases, the regulating body can take disciplinary action against a member of the profession who fails to comply with its standards. The disciplinary process usually includes a hearing before a tribunal. Depending on the circumstances, the tribunal may uphold or overturn the judge’s decision.