The Study of Law


Law is a system of rules and regulations created by a society that regulates behavior and enforces order through penalties. These rules can be made by a legislature (legislators) or, as with the U.S. constitution, by a constitutional convention. The term can also be applied to any strong rule that an authority establishes and must be obeyed, including rules that are inherently moral or intuitive. For example, the law of self-preservation may be considered a natural law that must be obeyed by all human beings.

In the broadest sense of the word, law encompasses all government activities that aim to provide a stable environment in which citizens can live and work. For instance, a government might create laws that guarantee civil rights or criminal justice or laws that protect the environment. But it can also create laws to punish those who commit offenses, such as the law of war.

A legal system is a set of rules that governs a nation and its citizens, and is often enforced by a central power through the military or a police force. Many countries have a constitution that codifies a government’s structure and principles, and enshrines certain rights that all citizens must be guaranteed by the state.

The study of law involves an understanding of the complexities and ambiguities of these systems, including the ways that law shapes politics, economics, history and culture in different nations. It also explores the limits of what is enforceable by a given political entity, such as the ability to limit the extension of government power to private corporations or individuals.

Some governments use a common law system, which relies on decisions by judges in cases that are brought to trial. These decisions are collected into a body of law called case law. The principle of stare decisis, which dictates that higher courts’ decisions will bind lower ones, is a key part of this system. Other countries, such as Japan, have a civil law system, which relies on legislative statutes to determine how judges must decide cases.

Other fields in the study of law include labor law, which concerns a tripartite relationship between employee, employer and trade union; family law; constitutional law; administrative law, which deals with the operations of government; and criminal law. Criminal law includes the laws that prosecute crimes, such as homicide or burglary; tort law is a branch of law that provides compensation for those who have been harmed by another person or company; and evidence law, which determines what material will be admissible in court for a case to be built.

The law is an essential element of any society, and the study of it is vitally important. The complexities of law are inextricably linked to other areas of knowledge. For instance, social restrictions and the way that people live together are influenced by laws, and these in turn shape the way that law is made. Likewise, the way that laws are enforced is an indicator of how stable or unstable a society’s government is.