What Is Law?
Law is the system of rules, regulations and statutes that are enforceable by governmental and social institutions. These institutions are typically called courts, legislatures, government agencies, social organizations or civil society. Several legal systems exist, each with its own unique characteristics. Some are more commonly known than others.
Legal systems are divided into civil law, common law, religious and customary law. Civil law legal systems are typically short and straightforward, requiring less judicial decision making and administrative action. Common law legal systems explicitly acknowledge the decisions of the court as “law.”
Religious and customary laws are based on religion. These include Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia. Israeli law allows litigants to use religious law for cases.
Law is often referred to as the art of justice. There are many theories that attempt to describe law’s role in justice. One theory claims that the purpose of law is to protect and maintain the integrity of the morally good. Other theories claim that law exists to regulate the behavior of humans, and that the underlying principles are governed by natural law.
The concept of “natural law” originated in ancient Greek philosophy, where it was associated with a notion of justice. Later it reemerged in mainstream culture through the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
In the United States, the term “law” is used to refer to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. It is a system of rules, which can be created, enforced and modified. Typically, the practice of law is overseen by a governing body, such as a constitution or government agency.
The term “law” can also be used to refer to a specific case, or a specific piece of evidence. Generally, a legal issue involves a court’s judgment or a contested issue of fact or evidence. However, in some cases, a legal issue can involve undisputed evidence. Regardless, the outcome of a legal matter depends on the interpretation of the law by the court.
A lawyer is an individual who has a license or professional qualification to practice law. Traditionally, a lawyer has passed a qualifying examination, usually a Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) or a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.). Although a law firm is not necessarily required for the practice of law, a law firm is typically regulated by a governing body.
Law firms can be either private or public. Private practitioners typically handle legal matters related to animal law, while federal and state attorneys typically work for the government. For example, private individuals can create arbitration agreements and state-enforced laws can be made by the executive, a group of legislators or a single legislator. During the course of a lawsuit, a lawyer represents the client during negotiations and litigation.
Laws can be formulated by the executive through decrees or the legislature through legislation. Alternatively, laws can be established by a court of law or a group of judges. Election law addresses issues such as voter registration and voting machines. This subdiscipline is also part of constitutional law.