What Is Law?

Law is the set of rules that create a framework within which people may live peacefully together. These rules are enforceable by the government and can result in penalties for those who violate them. There are a variety of different laws, some are general while others are specific to certain groupings of people such as children or drivers. Law can also refer to the way people act within a society or to the moral code that governs human behaviour.

A common law definition is: “The principles of law are derived from custom, and are superior to legislation; they regulate, not the actions of men, but their conduct; they govern, not the thoughts and volitions of individuals, but the common consciousness of all.” Hans Kelsen proposed a pure theory of Law, which states that laws are a ‘normative science’ and do not describe what must occur but rather define the rules that a person must abide by.

The most obvious function of Law is to protect the individual from predatory or exploitative behavior by other people and organizations. This is accomplished by providing a system of checks and balances that ensures fairness in business dealings, governmental activities, and personal affairs.

Other important functions of Law include establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties. The way that Law is executed differs from nation to nation, but the principal functions are universal. A legal system that is not well-established or is oppressive is unlikely to serve its citizens.

Some laws are created by a centralized authority, while others are created by local governments or communities. The most complex laws are created by a legislative branch of government. In the United States, for example, legislation begins when a member of Congress sponsors a bill. The bill is then assigned to a committee for study. If released, the bill can be debated and voted on by the House of Representatives. If passed by a simple majority, the bill moves to the Senate. There the bill is analyzed and amended if needed, and is voted on again. If passed by the Senate, the bill can be enacted as a law.

Careers in the law offer many opportunities for those with a good education and an interest in helping others. Large Law firms are the most popular destination for graduates, but those who prefer to work with small or medium sized businesses may want to consider independent practice. Whatever the career path, a Law professional must be willing to work hard to make it successful as well as be able to handle stress and long hours. The rewards for those who do are substantial, both financially and professionally.