Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It is widely seen as a complex and important aspect of society, although its precise definition is a subject of ongoing debate.
In general, laws are meant to keep the peace, preserve and protect private property, promote social justice, provide for orderly social change and ensure the proper administration of public affairs. The law also serves a number of other purposes, such as providing a system for settling disputes and resolving conflict, but not all legal systems meet all these needs equally well.
The law shapes politics, economics, history and culture in a variety of ways. In some jurisdictions, the law is codified in a written constitution or other formal document. In others, it is based on judge-made precedent. In either case, the law has a strong influence on people’s lives and society as a whole.
Different cultures have different ideas about what the law should be, which contributes to the wide range of legal systems in existence. Many of these legal systems are based on religious doctrine, including the law of the Koran in Islam and Jewish law. Other systems are modeled after the English common law and European civil law. Regardless of their origin, all legal systems must be consistent with the principle of the rule of law.
This means that people must be able to expect the same level of fairness and justice from all the governing bodies they interact with. In addition, the law must be publicly promulgated, evenly enforced and independently adjudicated. It must also be based on international human rights standards and norms.
The study of systems of laws is called jurisprudence, and it is an increasingly popular career choice for young people. It is a complex field, though, because the language of law is specialized and often unfamiliar to those outside the profession.
Law is a vast and diverse field, with many sub-fields, such as administrative law, contract law and tort law. Each of these fields has its own vocabulary and terminology. Some of the more common terms used in the legal field include: