What Is Law?
Generally, law is defined as a set of rules enforceable by governmental institutions or social institutions. These rules are written in statutes and case law. Some legal systems, such as those of the United States, allow private individuals to create legally binding contracts.
In addition to establishing the political basis for society, laws also have the power to shape history and economics. These rules can be made by the executive branch through decrees, or by the legislature of a group. There are three main types of legal systems: common law, civil law and international law.
Common law legal systems are based on judicial decisions, while civil law systems are less formal. Common law has its origins in the medieval Lex Mercatoria, and explicitly acknowledges judicial decisions as “law.” A more contemporary example of this type of law is the US Uniform Commercial Code, which codifies common law commercial principles.
Typically, laws are shaped by constitutions, but a state-enforced law is made by a legislator or a single person. These are often called “consensus” laws. Similarly, religious laws are based on religions’ precepts. Islamic Sharia is a religious law, while Jewish Halakha is a religious law derived from Judaism.
There are two types of law degrees: Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Laws (LLM). A JD requires a bachelor’s degree and takes about three years to complete. A JD can be earned in the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. A JD can be combined with a Masters’ degree in another field to prepare for a specific career, and the length of time students spend in school can vary. A law student can work with a top-tier practitioner or scholar to learn how to think critically about the law’s impact on people.
The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, was created in 1946. It is the primary United Nations dispute settlement body. It has issued advisory opinions and issued numerous judgments. Its members are experts in their individual capacity and address issues of international law. The organization is a member of the General Assembly, and consults with other UN specialized agencies on a variety of issues.
Other types of law degrees include the Bachelor of Laws, the Master of Laws, and the Doctor of Juridical Science. These degrees can be studied in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan. Some universities allow a student to spend a year abroad, and some institutions allow their students to practice law on a pro bono basis with real-life clients.
The International Law Commission is an organization of 34 members, representing the principal legal systems of the world. The Commission promotes the progressive development of international law. It prepares drafts on the various aspects of international law, and consults with UN specialized agencies on a variety of legal matters.
The International Law Commission also serves as an advisory board to the United Nations. The United Nations Charter calls on the Organization to promote the development of international law in a progressive manner.