What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules and principles imposed on people by their community, state or nation. It consists of the customs and policies recognized by a society and enforced by the authority of its government, as well as of judicial decisions. The department of knowledge concerned with these rules is called jurisprudence. Law serves four broad purposes: it establishes standards, maintains order, resolves disputes, and protects liberties and rights. The process by which law is adopted, administered, adjudicated, and enforced must be open and transparent. The agencies involved must be accessible and reflective of the makeup of the communities they serve. Law should ensure that individuals are treated equally and that their property, contracts, and personal liberty are protected.

The law must be based on rational and objective criteria; it cannot consist of precepts that are irrational or impossible to enforce. Law must also not impose restrictions on people that are outside their physical capacity, as this would violate their dignity. Finally, the law should not rely on force or coercion, as this would violate human rights and undermine a free and democratic society.

Legal systems are diverse, as they vary from region to region and culture to culture. Some nations use common law and others a more structured civil law system. Civil law is found on all continents and covers about 60% of the world’s population, while common law systems exist mainly in North America and Britain.

Many careers in law have a high level of prestige and can offer financial security. Large law firms often have mentoring programs and career progression paths that can be a great opportunity for young professionals. However, it is important to remember that working in a law firm can be incredibly stressful and can result in long work hours and an intense workload.

From a philosophical viewpoint, law has several unique characteristics that distinguish it from other fields of study. The first is that it focuses on a rule of morality, which lacks the empirical nature of the rules of other disciplines such as natural science (like the law of gravity) or social science (like the laws of supply and demand). Consequently, there are no means of verifying the content of the law without consulting a judge’s opinion.

Another unique aspect of the law is that it provides Uniformity and certainty to justice. This is crucial because it avoids the danger of arbitrary, biased and dishonest judgment. In the Bible, God enjoins judges to “judge righteously; with neither respect of persons, nor favouring of men” (Deuteronomy 16:18).