What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that a society or government develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It includes the laws that punish a person for making obscenity-filled phone calls and those that empower people to own property or enter into contracts. Law also refers to the study of law and the structure of legal systems.

The most important purpose of law is to protect liberty and rights. Other purposes include establishing standards, maintaining order, and resolving disputes. Law can be established and enforced by legislative, judicial, or executive authorities. Parliamentary governments have legal power to enact laws that bind citizens; judges and prosecutors have legal authority to try criminal defendants; and contract and property law establish citizens’ rights to exchange goods and services and own tangible assets.

Appeals – When a plaintiff or defendant asks another court to review the judgment of a trial, either for improper procedure or to change its interpretation of the law. The party doing so is called the appellant.

Jury pool – The group from which actual jurors are chosen for a case, typically by a process called voir dire. Lawyers in a case are known as litigants.

In addition to regulating legal behavior, law sets ethical and moral norms for both private and public actors. A law that is fair, publicly available, stable, and enforced evenly ensures human rights as well as property, contract, and procedural rights. Law can also serve social change by providing a framework for analyzing problems and creating solutions.

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