What Is Law?
Law is a set of rules that governs and regulates a society, whether by force or consent. The purposes of law are broadly outlined as establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. There are four principal branches of law, namely constitutional law, criminal law, administrative law and civil litigation. These are further subdivided into various areas of law, including contract law, family law and criminal procedure. There are also several specialist fields such as labour law and medical jurisprudence.
The laws of a country are created by the legislature and enforced by courts. Legislators can create law in any number of ways, for example by passing statutes or approving executive regulations. Alternatively, they may copy legislation from other jurisdictions or rely on model laws produced by groups such as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Interests groups may also lobby legislators to promote their social and economic interests.
A legislative body can be bicameral or unicameral. A bicameral legislature consists of two bodies, such as the Senate and House in the United States government, each of which has an equal amount of power. During the drafting of bills, compromises are often made in both houses to agree on a final form for the bill. The legislature then passes the bill to the executive. The executive can approve a bill by signing it or disapprove of a bill by exercising the power of a veto. The executive can also create a new rule by signing an Executive Order.
In common law legal systems, decisions of higher courts are binding on lower courts through the doctrine of stare decisis. This ensures that similar cases will reach similar results. Civil law systems are found in most continental countries and cover about 60% of the world’s population. They are based on concepts and categories derived from Roman law, sometimes supplemented or modified by canon law or local custom or culture.
The study of law is a demanding career choice that requires a substantial commitment of time and energy. Nevertheless, for people who enjoy the intellectual challenge, and like to be at the forefront of change, studying law is an exciting option. It is not for everyone, however; there are many other careers that provide greater opportunities to grow and develop. Those who study law are often ambitious, and they are able to shape the laws of their societies and the lives of their citizens.