Law is the system of rules that a community or government develops in order to deal with criminal activity, business agreements and social relationships. The law is enforced through mechanisms such as courts and policing.
The law may be created by a legislature, resulting in statutes, by the executive, creating regulations or decrees, or by a judge through precedent, typically in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can also create legally binding contracts. Law is the subject of a wide range of scholarly inquiry including legal history, philosophy and economic analysis, as well as questions of equality, fairness and justice.
There are a number of different types of laws, which can be broadly classified as civil, criminal, and administrative. Civil law deals with disputes between individuals or businesses, while criminal law addresses conduct that is considered harmful to society, such as murder and larceny. Administrative law, which covers the activities of public agencies and organizations, such as governmental departments, is another area of law.
Those who work in the field of law are called lawyers, judges, police officers and other professionals. The law can be a fascinating and challenging field to study. It is an academic discipline which offers opportunities for research, writing and a variety of careers, from private practice to teaching and government service.
In addition to regulating commercial and personal transactions, the law also protects individual rights and provides for a sense of security in a society. The importance of the law is demonstrated by the fact that people will generally obey it, even if they disagree with its content or the way it is implemented.
A nation’s law must balance the competing needs of keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo and protecting minorities against majorities. Some legal systems are more effective at serving these aims than others.
Law is a vast subject, covering a multitude of areas of human life. Some of the most interesting branches of the law include contract law, which regulates agreements to exchange goods and services; property law, which determines an individual’s rights and duties toward tangible property (such as cars and houses); and criminal law, which punishes those who break socially accepted rules, such as not reporting a stolen wallet or obscene telephone calls. The legal system also includes a number of important procedures such as habeas corpus, trial by jury and the right to counsel for indigent defendants. There are also a variety of subfields, such as labor law and medical jurisprudence.