What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules that governs a society, usually through the legislative process. It is a complex subject, with various definitions, that has long been debated.

The most important types of law are statutory, administrative and civil procedure, and their applications differ significantly by jurisdiction. Statutory laws affect citizens and private institutions most directly in their daily lives; they are the foundation of many civil rights and social justice programs.

Civil procedure, which is most closely linked to litigation, concerns the rules that courts must follow as trials and appeals proceed. It also deals with evidence, which materials are admissible in court to build a case.

Criminal law, which is less directly applicable to everyday life, deals with criminal offenses and the penalties imposed for them. It covers such issues as sentencing, probation and parole.

Administrative law is concerned with a government’s use of delegated powers, and often deals with public services. Examples include environmental protection, water supply and energy generation.

Legal dictionaries provide short, concise definitions of the terms used in a specific legal context or practice. They typically give a description of the word’s legal meaning and frequently reference cases and other legal sources for authority.

Lawyers are professional experts who can be employed by a state or a non-state institution to represent the interests of individuals or businesses before a governmental body, and by courts of law or other tribunals to resolve legal disputes between individuals or business entities. They achieve distinct professional identity through special qualifications and regulated procedures, such as a law degree, the Bar Professional Training Course or the Doctor of Laws (D.Litt.).