The Basics of Law

Law is a system of rules and principles that govern the conduct of individuals, organizations and communities in response to the need for regularity, consistency and justice. It provides a framework and rules for settling disputes between people, and it is enforced by courts.

In the most general sense, the term law applies to any rules that a government or community recognizes as regulating the behavior of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties. Those rules can be created by statutes, decrees, regulations or precedent; established by judges through their decisions; or adopted and enforced in some way by private individuals.

Legal systems vary widely from country to country, and some have more pronounced differences than others. They can serve various purposes, including to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change.

The most common legal systems are based on common law and civil law.

Common law is based on court decisions rather than statutes passed by a legislature. It is based on the principles of stare decisis, or “to stand by a decision,” which means that a decision from one court binds subsequent courts to follow it in similar cases.

Civil law is a set of comprehensive rules and principles, arranged in codes, and usually easy to understand by citizens and jurists. It favors cooperation, predictability and order; it is logical and dynamic; it avoids excessive detail; and it allows for adaptable solutions to changing needs.

A government’s powers to create and enforce laws are largely dependent on its size, and its political nature; a small nation with an authoritarian regime can have a weaker set of legal systems than a large nation with a democratic government. However, in the United States, Congress has the power to enact statutes that establish and enforce laws and is also authorized to issue executive orders to carry out specific provisions of federal law.

These laws are often written in the form of bills that require consideration by the legislature before they become a law. The legislative process is divided into two stages: committee consideration and a house vote.

Unlike the Senate, the house is not required to agree on any bill that passes committee consideration, although many do so. In order for a bill to become a law, it must be voted on by the house and approved by the president.

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer, you will need to learn about the process of creating and enforcing laws. You can do this by reading books and listening to lectures and podcasts. You can also visit a career center and speak with a counselor about what courses you should take to prepare for law school.