Law is a body of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been variously described as a science and as an art of justice.
The laws of a society are derived from the social and cultural environment in which people live. These are rules that people have learned to follow through custom and experience in order to maintain community harmony and economic stability. They are usually embodied in written or oral tradition, as well as in more detailed legal codes and regulations. These laws are enforceable by a supreme authority, usually a central government or a court.
There are many types of law, including criminal and civil laws. The most important of these are the laws governing human rights and property. A government’s authority to enforce these laws is dependent on its ability to govern in a stable, fair and equitable manner. It also depends on its willingness to acquiesce to the legitimate concerns of its citizens and to provide them with adequate representation and services.
A basic principle of law is the distinction between a normative and a descriptive character. A normative statement is a statement of what ought to happen or be the case under certain conditions, such as a law of gravity; a descriptive statement, on the other hand, describes what actually happens under the same circumstances, such as the law of supply and demand in economics. Law is a normative discipline, while other sciences are descriptive.
The laws of a society must be consistent with the nature and development of the social structure and the natural environment. They must also be flexible enough to adapt to changing social conditions and new needs. For this reason, the judicial system must be given room to interpret and develop law through creative jurisprudence.
In common law systems, decisions of courts are recognized as being on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. This is called the doctrine of precedent or stare decisis. The decisions of higher courts “bind” lower courts unless there is evidence that the earlier decision was wrongly decided or significantly different in fact and law from the case before the court.
A law school is a place where students can study the theory and practice of the law. Some law schools offer degrees in a variety of fields, including criminal law, contract law, torts, constitutional law, and international law. Some law schools also offer specialized programs such as tax law or labor and employment law.
A law journal is a periodical publication in which articles are published that analyze and discuss issues in the field of law. Articles in a law journal can range from brief analyses of current controversies in the field to comprehensive discussions of theoretical and practical problems facing lawyers. A law journal can be a valuable source of information for both the general public and the legal profession.