What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules that regulates human interactions. Its four principal purposes are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes, and protect individual rights and liberties. Law provides guidance to citizens and businesses, ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and that people do not violate the rights of others.

Legal systems vary from country to country, sometimes even within a single country. Nevertheless, they all have some similarities based on historically accepted justice ideals. These include common law, civil law, religious law, and customary law. Civil law systems, also referred to as continental law or Romano-Germanic law, are found throughout the world, covering about 60% of the world’s population. They are based on concepts, categories, and rules rooted in Roman law, often supplemented by canon and local culture. They have been codified in many countries, such as France’s Code civil or Germany’s BGB.

A law or legal system is any set of rules enacted by a government to govern its citizens, organizations, and businesses. The study of law is called jurisprudence, and those who practice it are known as lawyers and judges.

While laws may be written to protect people from abuses, they cannot always stop these abusive behaviors entirely. This is why many of us have faith in the system of checks and balances that our laws provide. These are the mechanisms that prevent our leaders from becoming too powerful or acting above the law. In the United States, these include a separation of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our government; checks and balances between branches of our government; and public participation in the drafting of laws.