The Basics of Law


Law is the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members. It is a complex subject with many different interpretations, and scholars have debated the nature of law for centuries. The basic definition of law is a set of standards enforced by a government body that establishes and maintains order, resolves disputes, and protects people’s rights and liberties. Law is also the study of this system and of the various legal systems that exist throughout the world.

The word “law” is derived from the Old Norse lag, meaning “to lay down a tune.” It can be defined as a social institution that imposes order on society by balancing the conflicting pulls of politics, economics and ethics. Roscoe Pound, an early theorist of law, defined it as a “coercive instrument” that serves social needs.

This definition has led to numerous debates, one of which concerns the extent to which morals are a part of our law. The utilitarian view, popularized by Jeremy Bentham, defines law as “commands, backed by the threat of sanctions, from a sovereign to men, as political subjects”. The natural school of thought, championed by Thomas Aquinas, argues that laws are intrinsically moral and reflect a fixed law of nature.

There are several types of law, ranging from criminal to civil. Civil law covers topics such as property, contracts, and family law. Criminal law encompasses crimes such as murder and robbery, as well as more minor offenses like traffic violations. Environmental law seeks to protect the natural environment from harm, while aviation law deals with all regulations and standards for aircraft.

Other legal fields include maritime law, which governs shipping and the use of the sea, and international law, which concerns the relationship between nations and non-nation states. The most important law is constitutional law, which prescribes the foundation of a nation-state’s government and its various civil liberties. This is followed by national statutory law, which includes acts passed by Congress, treaties ratified by the Senate, and regulations enacted by the executive branch, and case law, interpreted by federal courts.

There are a number of sub-fields within law, such as administrative law, which covers public administration and government agencies; contract law, which deals with business transactions; and biolaw, which is the intersection of law with the life sciences. The field of law is constantly changing and expanding, with new issues and challenges emerging regularly. There are several areas of legal practice, such as tax law and immigration law, which have broad implications for the whole economy. This has created a large number of opportunities for attorneys and legal professionals. This expansion has also contributed to the growth of law schools. Many of these have become major universities offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in law. In addition, a growing number of law schools are offering online programs. These programs allow students to complete their studies at a time and place that fits their schedules.