What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules determined by a place or authority meant to keep the peace and protect people. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. In an ideal world, the laws of a nation are based on common sense and are created through democratic process. The principal functions of the law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. This is a hard task, and some governments have failed at it.

Laws govern every aspect of life, from traffic regulations to the right to marry. Laws are made by elected representatives, appointed officials and judges. A judge is a person who resolves people’s conflicts and determines whether someone accused of breaking the law is guilty or innocent. A judge’s decision is based on precedent, which are the decisions of previous judges in similar cases. This is called “stare decisis” and helps ensure that future decisions will be interpreted in the same way.

Legal systems vary, but most countries follow a rule of law modeled on the principles of a constitution and the legal code enshrined therein. The rules of the constitution determine the relationship between a government and its people, and the role of the different branches of government in making and enforcing laws. The law is generally interpreted by a judiciary, which includes judges and juries.

Besides the general constitutional law, other legal areas include immigration and nationality, family, financial, environmental, commercial, criminal and tort law. For example, immigration law relates to the rights of people from other countries to live and work in a nation-state that is not their own, or to acquire or lose citizenship. Family law deals with marriage and divorce proceedings, and the rights of children. Financial law covers the regulation of banking and other businesses. Environmental law addresses the impact of business and industry on the environment. Commercial law encompasses business contracts and taxation.

Religious law is based on religious precepts, and examples include the Jewish Halakhah, Islamic Sharia and Christian canon law. It is a complex and regulated area, and requires more than a reading of the scriptures to interpret fully. It often depends on further human elaboration and interpretation, such as Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and jurisprudence. The law has the potential to change society, but this is only possible if it is well written and enforced. If not, the laws can be used to oppress minorities and maintain social injustice. This is why a good lawyer can make all the difference in a legal case. Writing legal articles requires proper research skills, a pragmatic mindset and the will to explore the issues systematically. It can also involve a good deal of technical jargon. Fortunately, some useful resources are available online to help aspiring authors. For instance, there are many helpful legal writing guides that can provide guidance and support throughout the process of researching and writing a legal article.