What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that govern society and its behaviour. It includes both statutes and customs.

Legal systems can be divided into civil law (about 60% of the world), based on concepts, categories and rules derived from Roman law, with some influence from canon law; common law; and administrative law. They are mainly secular and focus on individual freedom.

The profession of law is becoming increasingly popular among young people. Lawyers are professionals who advise and represent individuals in a variety of situations and are employed by a government or independent regulating body, such as a bar association, council or law society.

There are a wide range of legal professions, including criminal and civil lawyers, judges, and legal academics. Most of these careers require a professional qualification, such as a bachelor’s degree or doctorate in law.

Unlike the sciences, where laws are indisputable facts about the forces that are at work, law is defined by experience.

Holmes’s understanding of law is that it is immanent, probabilistic and flowing. As experience flows, it is updated, a participant’s probability estimates are updated and the law is defined again.

This definition is more successful than the judicial community’s. However, it does entail a cost in utility to the scientific community.

The extension of state power to citizens’ daily lives presents unique problems in securing accountability that earlier writers could not have foreseen. For example, military and policing are powerful institutions that can be used to enforce law. But these organizations can also be corrupted and manipulated by the powerless.