What Is Law?


Law is the system of rules that governs a country or region. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. Moreover, it raises issues of ethics (morality), social justice (proper distribution of goods/privileges and burdens in a society) and natural science (empirical and scientifically valid phenomena). It is also the subject of extensive academic inquiry, such as legal history, philosophy and sociology.

Legal knowledge is a vital part of the ability to think critically about a topic and form an opinion. This is particularly important for students who plan to go into a legal career, since they may be asked to defend their opinions in the courtroom. Writing is also an essential skill for a student to develop, not only because it allows them to build up an astounding vocabulary, but also because it expands their research skills.

The main purpose of the law is to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. The law serves all societies in various ways, shaping their politics, economy and history as well as regulating social relationships. The main distinction can be made between civil and criminal law jurisdictions. The latter focus on crimes against the state and other public interests, whilst the former deal with personal matters such as divorce or property.

Civil law is found in about 60% of the world’s countries, with a common distinction between codified, or ‘consolidated’, systems and judge-made systems of law. The codified systems are based on categories and principles derived from Roman law, with some influence of canon law. Judge-made systems are influenced by custom, culture and local religions, and use the methods of Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent.

Regulation laws concern a particular industry or aspect of the public service, such as water, energy and telecommunications. In general they involve balancing competing interests and objectives, such as cost, safety, fairness or environmental considerations.

The rule of law is an overarching principle that ensures all persons, institutions and entities, both public and private, are accountable to laws that are clear and publicly promulgated, stable and evenly enforced, and that comply with international human rights norms. It also requires measures to guarantee that judicial processes are accessible, impartial, independent and effective. Moreover, it means that a judicial body is representative of the community it serves. Consequently, the legal profession must be open to all members of society and should include people from all backgrounds. This is particularly important in the case of a judiciary that decides on cases of major social importance. This will promote a balanced discussion and the most accurate judgements of a situation. It will also help to reduce bias in decision making. This is especially relevant when dealing with sensitive cases such as those of sexual discrimination or abortion. This is because the judges need to be free from any political or personal bias that could potentially prejudice the outcome of a case.