What is Law?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
The Constitution is the supreme law of America.
The Constitution is the supreme law of America.

Law is a system of rules a society sets to maintain order and protect harm to persons and property. Such systems are ancient, dating back at least to the Code of Hammurabi, written by an ancient Babylonian king around 1760 BC. Today, most countries have tens or hundreds of thousands of pages of laws. They are enforced by the police, supported by the court and prison systems. Laws are written by legislators, such as senators or congressmen. In America and many other countries, these rules must uphold and not contradict the Constitution, a document outlining the most basic rules of the country.

The Babylonian King Hammurabi created an ancient legal code that bears his name.
The Babylonian King Hammurabi created an ancient legal code that bears his name.

Aside from law being a set of rules, the word also refers to the profession practiced by lawyers, who either prosecute or defend a client from an accusation of violating the law. Becoming a lawyer requires attending law school and passing a bar exam. This entitles the lawyer to a license. Only lawyers with a license are allowed to practice.

There are many categories of law. These include contract, property, trust, tort, criminal, constitutional, administrative, and international. Each of these sets the rules for a distinct area of human activity. Without laws, there is lawlessness, which historically has led to a general breakdown in society, sometimes to the point of a near-standstill in the economy. Those that advocate the abolition of all laws are called anarchists.

The term "law" sometimes refers to the profession practiced by lawyers and other legal professionals.
The term "law" sometimes refers to the profession practiced by lawyers and other legal professionals.

Depending on one's political orientation, they will generally favor more or less law. At one end of the spectrum are libertarians, who advocate minimal rules or government intervention into the affairs of the public. At the other end are fascists, who seek to create laws regulating practically everything, generally under the assumption that a disciplined nation will be a powerful nation. Historically, most fascist governments have collapsed.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime MyLawQuestions contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime MyLawQuestions contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

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Discussion Comments

anon353421

Thanks for all the great advice. I told my friend I would help her find a family law lawyer and this is really good advice.

anon168096

does the law change as other rules change in some societies?

anon127270

Why there are some laws which society is against if law comes from society? --ann3

anon122333

What is the difference between rules and law?

anon122331

What do we do? In many of our countries today, law has been subjected to sociological connections of the highly placed, mostly in the government and the financially solvent instead of being subjected to true investigations and proof. What do we do? Chris D., Law student

anon117421

Does a society need rules to maintain order?

anon114497

Why do we need laws in society? What are the positive laws and natural laws?

anon113470

what is the distinction/difference between law and morality?

anon105799

Law is necessary because, as humans, we are basically untrustworthy to do the proper thing. We are incapable of balancing our own selfish needs with those of our society.

anon104320

there is no law in the entire nation.

anon86137

The law is made for man and not man for the law. But, I wonder why the highly placed in the society live above the law, and the law weighs down on the masses. I wonder!

Peter E. University of Port Harcourt.

anon85295

The origin of law is from God setting the do's and don'ts. Rules and regulations to ensure the protection of life and property and to maintain orderliness.

Laws could only be passed by those in whom God imbued wisdom and understanding. King Solomon could be set as an example. Barrister Olumide I., Lagos Nigeria

anon81131

is natural law not equivalent to eternal law/divine law?

deadmeat

we don't have laws, only forced state policies set to make judges and lawyers money. when a killer kills, it's the victims fault. when a women is raped it's her fault for the way she dresses, and when a car thief knocks down a child and kills the wee mite, it is not the car thief's fault, it's societies fault that he's got nothing to do.

It is not about justice for the victims -- it's about making money for the lawyers and judges. Most judges are out of touch with society.

anon74265

Law is common sense which is understood only by those who posses sense.

a.khan

anon72856

the concept of law simply means those principles that keep people from acting like they are living in the jungle or in a place with no rules.

anon55812

what is the importance of law in the society?

anon54684

how can law come from society when society is the one that abuses it? It's a simple case of correlation being mistaken for causation.

law comes from the individual.

anon49834

would you agree that since law is found in almost all societies, law comes from the society?

anon49258

my self i want to know more about the source of the law and how people maintain the rule of law in a third world country like Tanzania, and how this law helps people to get your rights. and how this law can benefit people to solve your problems facing people?

anon44730

what is the relation of law with the society?

anon42579

what is the role of law in the peace and prosperity of the nation?

anon41894

1.How do other professionals depend on law?

2.What is the importance of law to other professionals?

anon41586

Absolutely right. Without the knowledge of law a person loses his freedom. Because our constitution has given us certain rights and if we are not aware of those rights then we don't know what are our rights and we then lose confidence and think, "is this right. am i doing the right thing?" That's why for one's freedom, one should know and respect the law.

anon38166

without the knowledge of law(s) a people loses their freedom? how?

anon36829

There are only a few laws and a whole lot of statutes. Most of the times, the statutes do not hold up to the constitution.

International law is how business is conducted. It is also known as the law of the water. A part of why countries have currency, or why countries run on currents.

We are under the law of the land.

Natural law is the only true law. In fact natural laws are almost always so powerful, that you can not successfully break them.

Majority of people live under laws that they have very little ideal about.

Without the knowledge of law(s), a people are easily manipulated. Some examples.... taxes, motor vehicle, family, and so many others, mislead people into free giving up their rights.

So why there are laws, they are actually only put there to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens.

Laws today in their form, do exactly opposite of protecting freedoms and rights, and in fact do more of protecting law makers and handlers.

Without the knowledge of law(s), a people looses their freedom. Without freedom, you're only liberated.-- lssr

anon36503

when is law valid and when it is invalid?

anon31026

Law is an axe, having two edges. Confirm this statement and relate it to the contract law.

aga

1. What are the sources of law?

2. Discuss the major forms of justice.

fejiro

What is Natural Law?

anon26055

what exactly law is has eluded jurists and philosophers alike and yet there can be no society without law.

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