What Is Law?

What Is Law?


Law is a body of rules that governs human conduct and social interaction. It is a core subject in education and a source of scholarly inquiry across the disciplines of legal history, philosophy, sociology and economic analysis. Law shapes politics, economics, society and culture in a myriad of ways.

The precise definition of law has long been debated. There are various competing theories of its nature, but most of these revolve around the concept of a set of binding rules that have been adopted and enforced by a societal authority. These rules can be categorized into three broad categories:

Private Law

The private laws of a community are the rules that govern the interactions between individuals within a community. The rules may be written or unwritten, and they can vary widely between different societies. Private laws may be based on religious precepts (such as Jewish Halakha or Islamic Sharia), principles of natural justice or the will of a deity. They may also be based on practical considerations that are a result of the way a community functions, such as the need to settle disputes without violence or the desire to ensure the safety of people and property.

Civil law deals with the resolution of lawsuits between individuals or organizations. It is distinguished from criminal law, which seeks to punish those who offend public order or endanger the lives and welfare of others. It is also distinct from administrative law, which relates to the procedures that must be followed by a government agency or other entity in carrying out its tasks.

There are many specialized fields of law, such as labour law, family law and maritime law. In addition, law can be studied as an academic discipline in its own right, a subject that is known as jurisprudence.

The process of creating new law starts with a proposal or bill introduced in either the House of Representatives or Senate (or in some countries a bicameral legislature). The bills are assigned to committees whose members research, discuss, amend and vote on the proposals. If a bill passes one chamber it must be passed by the other and then signed by the executive to become a law.

The creation of laws is a complex process that requires a number of different skills and talents. Often ideas for legislation come from legislators who have experience in a particular field, or from organisations that produce model laws. Those who lobby to protect the interests of specific groups are also a major factor in legislative decisions. Lastly, laws are only as good as the people who create them and enforce them. Therefore, a successful career in law requires high levels of intelligence and emotional maturity.