The Basics of Law


Law is a system of rules that regulates behavior and is enforced by a controlling authority. Laws may be made by a group legislature, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or by judges through precedent (case law). Private individuals may also create legally binding contracts.

Different types of laws exist in a wide variety of fields, such as family law, criminal law and civil law. Laws shape politics, economics and history in many ways.

The study of laws is called jurisprudence, and the practice of law is known as the legal profession. Lawyers are regulated by either government or independent professional organizations, such as the bar association or law society. Lawyers must pass a rigorous exam and complete a long legal education to qualify to practice.

Laws help make societies safe and peaceful by ensuring that people respect each other’s rights and do not harm one another. Laws also provide a means of settling disputes without violent confrontation, such as when two people claim the same land.

Some laws regulate specific activities, such as banking and finance, intellectual property law or biolaw. Other laws apply to the whole of society, such as international law, constitutional law or environmental law. Still others are based on religion, such as Jewish halakha and Islamic Sharia or Christian canon law.

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