The Study of Law

Law is the system of rules and regulations governing the behavior and relationships between individuals, groups and governments. It is a key component of a well-ordered society, but it also serves many other functions. Laws keep the peace, protect property and human rights and promote social change. The way laws are made and enforced varies from nation to nation. The principal goal of any legal system is to ensure that the law is clear, publicized and stable and is applied evenly by government officials and private actors alike. The law must guarantee human rights and property ownership, as well as fairness in the administration of justice and the freedom to contract.

The study of law is extremely broad and involves the fields of legal history, philosophy, political science, economic analysis and sociology. The subject matter ranges from the complex issues of civil liberties to the simple details of criminal procedure.

A body of law is the collection of statutes, court decisions, executive orders and other legal instruments that a government uses to govern its people. Law also includes the legal principles that are used to interpret these documents. Laws can be divided into two broad categories: public and private. Public law deals with public policy and governmental activities, while private law involves individual rights and contracts.

Generally, laws are created by the legislature (legislators) or by the courts. Legislators enact laws, while judges decide lawsuits brought before them. Judges are called magistrates in some countries and judges – particularly those on the highest courts of the land – are often referred to as “Justices.”

The law is administered by lawyers, who specialize in various areas of law. Other professionals involved with the law are prosecutors, bailiffs and probation officers. A person who represents himself in a lawsuit is known as a pro se – from the Latin phrase meaning “on one’s own behalf.” Prosecutors and other government officials are called attorneys, and defendants without money can be represented by a public defender.

Laws regulate a wide range of activities, such as employment, education and housing. The law also governs business and industry, including taxes, bankruptcy and financial markets. Laws that govern public utilities and services, such as water, energy and telecommunications, are known as regulatory law. The law is also studied in the context of international relations, where it is sometimes viewed as a mechanism for imposing peace and stability on a region.