Law is a set of rules or norms created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. It is the basis of society and a powerful tool for shaping politics, economics, history and culture.
The word “law” is derived from the Latin term legis, meaning “a rule”. It is a legal system that provides an order for people to follow to ensure fairness and good government in society.
There are four main purposes for which law is used: to establish standards, to maintain order, to resolve disputes and to protect rights. In addition, law can serve as a source of moral authority.
Among the most common purposes of law are to provide for civil rights and liberties, to protect people from harm, to prevent corruption and graft, to control crime, and to enforce the public’s property and financial interests.
It also serves to ensure that a nation’s interests are protected in its international relations, as well as to punish wrongdoers and prevent the spread of a national disease or other disaster.
The legal system can be divided into two broad groups: common law systems and civil law systems, based on the jurisprudence of courts (common law) and legislatures (civil law).
In the former, legislative statutes are more detailed and court decisions are shorter and less elaborate, since they are written to decide one specific case. Moreover, courts are bound by the doctrine of stare decisis, meaning that their decisions stand on equal footing with those of lower courts and future decisions of the same court.
There are also a number of methods by which laws can be interpreted (construed). These include legal syllogism and analogy in civil law systems, as well as arguments and cannons of interpretation in common law legal systems.
Law also involves a process of changing and adapting it to new circumstances and to people’s needs. This can be done by enacting legislation, amending existing laws or interpreting them through creative jurisprudence.
This process can be called “jurisprudence” or “regulatory innovation”. Examples of jurisprudence in modern legal systems are: the European Union, United States Federal Court of Appeals, and many national parliaments and law courts.
The law is a complex and contested subject that shapes politics, economics, history and society in numerous ways. It also functions as a mediator for relations between people.
It is the foundation of society and a powerful tool for shaping the economy, protecting individuals from harm, and controlling crime.
A person who is a lawyer has a unique professional identity and a specialised qualification. The qualifications typically include a university degree in law or another discipline and professional experience.
They often practice in a particular field of law and are overseen by either a governing body or an independent regulatory body such as a bar association, bar council or law society.
The legal profession is the largest in most countries, and is the primary source of revenue for governments. It is a diverse and lucrative industry, employing people in every sphere of society and providing an important service to the public.