The law is the set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate and it has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice.
Legal scholars and practitioners explore the deep dimensions to what is at once a fundamentally simple concept and a complex one. They investigate how the idea of ‘law’ is a fundamental part of human societies and how it relates to different types of governance structures. They look at the laws and regulations that govern our daily lives as well as the systems of courts, punishments and decisions that give them effect. They also consider how the law and its application are impacted by changing attitudes to equality, fairness and social change.
Many different disciplines contribute to the study of law, including philosophy, history, sociology and economic analysis. The law also raises important questions about how to balance power and freedom in society, which has led to a rich tradition of political theory.
In contemporary times, the law has become a focus of intense political and public controversy. This is particularly true of the way in which the modern military, police and bureaucracy have extended their reach into ordinary citizens’ everyday lives. These new powers raise specific challenges to accountability that earlier writers such as Locke and Montesquieu could not have foreseen.
The laws that govern our lives range from those that prevent us from driving while drinking, to the rules that protect children’s privacy. There are also laws that regulate businesses, such as contract law – which sets the standards for agreements to exchange goods and services – and property law, which defines people’s rights and duties towards tangible (i.e., physical) and intangible property, such as cars and bank accounts. Other areas of the law include terrorism, taxation and investment.
Law is a central component of any societal system and is a vital part of a functional economy. It helps to keep businesses running smoothly and efficiently, provides safety for travelers, and ensures that justice is served fairly and appropriately. Law is also a huge source of entertainment and the inspiration behind countless movies, novels and television shows. The profession of the lawyer, referred to as ‘the law’, is also extremely popular and lucrative with more and more young people choosing to become lawyers. This is due to the fact that law is a fascinating and challenging subject with many career opportunities available. There are even titles of respect for those who are especially accomplished in the field, such as Esquire to indicate a barrister of greater dignity and Doctor of Law to indicate an individual who has obtained a PhD in law. The law is a fascinating, complex and constantly evolving area of study. It is a subject that will continue to fascinate and inspire for generations to come.