The Study of Law


Law is the set of rules a particular community recognizes as binding on its members and enforced through a controlling authority. Law may govern a variety of aspects of a society including contracts, property, and criminal activities. Various professions exist to advise people about the law, represent them in court, and give decisions or punishments. Law is also the foundation of many social issues including human rights, political instability, and economic development.

In the United States, we have a common law system where judges decide cases on their own rather than relying on specific written codes to make their rulings. This means that we have a large amount of case law which is used as a precedent in future cases. Many other countries have a civil law system where they use specific laws that are already written down to make their rulings. This system makes it harder to make case law because the previous decisions are set in stone, but it does help to keep consistency in the law since judges can cite past court rulings when making their own.

The main objective of law is to serve justice. This may be in the form of distributive justice to ensure that social benefits are fairly distributed or corrective justice to punish criminals. It could also be to maintain peace, protect minorities against majorities, or provide for orderly social change. Different types of legal systems have different aims in regulating societies. For example, a regime that is authoritarian will likely keep the peace and maintain the status quo but it might oppress minority groups or limit their freedoms. A democratic system, on the other hand, will strive to balance individual freedoms with public safety and the needs of society as a whole.

The study of law is a broad field which encompasses the history of legal concepts and systems, as well as current debates on legal philosophy and theory. A wide variety of laws exist across the globe, governing everything from criminal activity to international trade. Some of the most interesting areas in law include criminal procedure, contract law, and property law.

Contract law relates to agreements between individuals or businesses to exchange goods and services, for example buying a bus ticket or trading options on the stock market. Property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible property like houses and cars, as well as intangible property such as bank accounts and shares.

The study of law is a highly complex and fascinating area, and there are countless articles in this collection covering many different aspects of it. For a more in-depth look at the discipline, see Law (journal) and Law (book). Articles on legal careers and education can be found in Law (profession) and Law (education). For discussion of the relationship between law and political structures, see Law and government. For more information on the role of law in society, see Law (society). Law is a part of the Oxford Reference online collection.