Law is a system of rules that can be created and enforced through social or governmental institutions. It is an essential part of human life and helps regulate the actions of individuals and communities.
Laws are codified in written documents known as statutes or acts, or established by judges through precedents in common law jurisdictions. They set the rules for how people can behave and how they must respond when others act against them.
The word law is also used to refer to a particular branch of jurisprudence, such as contract law or tort law. The laws governing these areas can vary by culture, region and time.
There are many different branches of law, including contract law, property law and criminal law. These fields of law are based on the notion that individuals have rights and duties toward each other as well as their possessions.
A person who is a lawyer is a professional who advises and represents clients in court or in other legal proceedings, or who gives decisions and punishments. Other professionals in the field of law include judge and police officers, paralegals, and public defenders.
Generally, a person who is a lawyer has some type of degree in law and works for a law firm or corporation. The profession is becoming increasingly attractive to young people as a career.
In Western political philosophy, law is considered a superior form of normative rule to the customs and practices of a community. This view is derived from ancient conceptions of natural law, which were developed in Greek and Roman thought.
These conceptions emphasized the need for law to reflect a higher order of moral principles, such as justice and the will of God. These concepts were transmitted to Europe in the medieval period through the Church Fathers and the theologians of Scholasticism.
Modern European philosophers such as John Locke and Voltaire held that positive law should be based on the inalienable rights of individual subjects. This view became the basis for a doctrine called ‘natural rights’.
It also influenced the establishment of constitutions, which are legal documents that define governments’ powers and limit them. These documents may likewise establish the right to a trial by jury, which is an important part of the process of determining whether a law should be enforced.
Some types of law are based on religious precepts, such as the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia. Often the implication of religion for law is unalterability, because the word of God cannot be amended or legislated against.
This can lead to a conflict between the words of religion and those of law, and it is often a source of controversy within a society. For example, in Islam some Muslim jurists argue that the Quran contains some laws but that it should be interpreted through Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent.
In addition, there are many other forms of law, such as international law, where nations are governed by treaties signed between them. Some countries have a separate legal system relating to their own internal affairs, known as civil law. These systems are mainly codified in books, such as the Napoleonic Code or German Code.