The Field of Law

Law is a system of rules that a country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members. Law may be state-enforced, with a constitution setting the overall framework and laws that set out more detailed matters, or it can be privately enforced. A legal system can also serve a range of social justice purposes, such as keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, preserving individual rights and liberties, or providing for orderly social change.

Some legal systems use a variety of sources for their law, including a written constitution and subsequent laws, custom and policies, or a religious scripture (e.g. Jewish Halakha and Islamic Shari’ah). Other legal systems rely on further human elaboration, such as via interpretation (Qiyas and Ijma), analogy, consensus or precedent, to create thorough and comprehensive law.

Different legal systems are created and used for a wide variety of reasons, such as to ensure that property and personal freedoms are protected, to protect minorities against majorities, or to encourage economic development. In some societies, the law is enacted by a group of politicians in a legislature, which translates into statutes; in others, the executive branch has the power to decree laws, which are called regulations; while in still others, courts decide cases based on law that has been established through precedent.

The field of law is studied by students of jurisprudence, who learn about the origin and development of legal systems as well as the practice of law itself. The study of law involves a lot of reading, writing, and thinking; it requires skills in reading and analysis, as well as an understanding of how the law affects society. Lawyers must also be skilled negotiators, public speakers and defenders of the rights of their clients.

Those who are interested in law often pursue a career as a lawyer. A modern lawyer gains his or her distinct professional identity through a process of specialization in a specific area of law and obtaining a license to practice. In many countries, the licensing process involves passing a bar examination and earning a Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws or Juris Doctor degree. A lawyer’s job is to advise and represent individuals, corporations or government agencies regarding their legal rights and obligations. The laws of a nation must be consistent, understandable, and fair to all, regardless of a person’s wealth or social status. Law is a complex and ever-changing discipline, and new laws are constantly being proposed and passed. Legal scholars and practitioners must remain aware of the changes that are occurring in law, so that they can make informed judgments about the impact on their clients. Law is also an important part of a democracy, as it provides the means for citizens to participate in their government’s decision-making processes.