What Is Law?

Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It may also refer to the profession of those who practice this system, including lawyers and judges. Law is often seen as a branch of philosophy and has been variously described as a science, an art, or even an ideal.

A society without law is likely to collapse. Law helps to keep order, provide justice, and preserve the rights of individuals. It provides a standard that can be measured against the actions of individuals or groups, and it serves as the basis for enforcing the sanctions of the state against those who deviate from the standards set by the law.

The legal systems of nations vary greatly from one to another. A nation ruled by an authoritarian government may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but it might oppress minorities or oppose change. A democratically elected government might promote social justice but could fail to protect the liberties of citizens or prevent wars.

A country’s laws are often written in a law code, a compilation of individual acts that includes the original text with any amendments, and deletions that have been made over time. The United States Code, for example, contains 50 titles that are organized into subjects and then into smaller sections. Laws in some countries are written by committees, and their drafts are sometimes subject to intense study and debate that lasts a year or more.

Some countries have special courts that handle terrorism cases and other crimes. These may be separate from the national courts that hear other crimes and have different procedures for determining guilt or innocence. In other cases, terrorism is treated as part of a broad category of criminal offenses that are heard in the same courtrooms and by the same judges as non-terrorist crimes.

Those considering careers in law should take the time to learn as much as possible about the responsibilities and duties that are involved. They should also consider the nature of their personality and what kind of work environment they perform best in. For those who feel uncertain, they should talk with people who have careers in a range of fields and ask them about their career paths and what they found rewarding or challenging. They should also seek out internships or volunteer opportunities in the field and conduct informational interviews with people who have jobs in a variety of industries to gain a more balanced understanding of what it is like to be a lawyer. Then they should make a decision about whether a career in law is right for them.