Law is the set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Laws are designed to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights against majorities or oppressive minorities, promote social justice and allow for orderly social change. Many nations and communities have law systems to accomplish these goals, with some laws being more effective than others.
The exact definition of Law is a complex subject, and one that has attracted the interest of philosophers, lawyers, economists, sociologists and historians. It is a discipline that has its own special framework, and its study is therefore distinct from other disciplines such as empirical science (as the law of gravity) or social science (such as Max Weber’s concept of the state). From an observational perspective, the most obvious distinguishing feature of Law is that it is normative. It states what people ought to do or not do, and what they can or must have. This deprives it of the descriptive or causal character typical of empirical sciences, such as natural laws like the speed of light, and makes it more akin to metaphysical concepts such as moral philosophy.
In addition, law is also based on human elaboration and interpretation. This can take the form of religious law, such as Jewish Halakha or Islamic Sharia, and Christian canon law. Other legal systems are derived from the natural world and its properties, such as the law of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. This sort of law is called natural law, and it may be incorporated into the broader concept of Law as a form of natural or universal law.
Other aspects of Law include administrative or civil law, which covers matters such as public service and utilities (like water law), the administration of the courts, the tax system, business law and consumer law. In modern times, a lawyer is usually required to be licensed by a government or independent regulating body to practice Law in their country of residence. This ensures that the Law they observe is up to date and reflects the current state of knowledge.
The study of Law is important for many reasons. It has a fundamental impact on all aspects of human life, and the law is an essential component of any society. It is a powerful force that can be used to control the behaviour of individuals, groups and even entire nations. Its power should therefore be weighed carefully and used with great discretion. It is a discipline that requires a deep understanding of the world around us, and is best studied by those with analytical and research skills. In addition to these qualifications, a student of Law should be open to new ideas and have a pragmatic mindset. This way, they can make the most of the Law that exists in their environment. This will enable them to contribute positively to the law as it develops and changes over time.