What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been variously described as a science and as an art. Law informs our daily lives in many ways, and numerous branches of law exist to deal with particular types of contracts, property, or criminal acts. For example, contract law governs agreements to exchange goods or services, and property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible personal possessions (such as houses and cars) as well as intangible property such as bank accounts and shares of stock. The law also regulates censorship, crime, and war.

The precise nature of law is subject to much debate, and its broader purposes include establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting freedoms and rights. Some nations have more effective legal systems than others. For example, a nation ruled by an authoritarian government may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but it could oppress minorities or prevent social change.

A law student may choose to study a specific branch of the law to specialize in an area that interests him or her. For example, a lawyer might focus on intellectual property law. A law clerk might assist judges or lawyers with research and drafting of opinions. A librarian might meet the informational needs of a court or law firm. judicial officer – A government official who decides lawsuits brought before the courts. A judge may write an opinion based on the law as it applies to a particular case or situation, or he or she may review past court decisions to help shape future rulings.