The Basics of Law

Law is a system of rules that people or groups establish to regulate their relationships with one another. In modern societies, laws are generally written and enforced by a government that is voted on by the citizens it governs and has the power to arrest and punish those who break the law. The purpose of most laws is to protect individuals and their property from harm. The precise definition of law varies from nation to nation. Historically, some laws have been made on a false basis to benefit the few at the expense of society and have resulted in social conflict and war. Other laws have been based on concepts of morality and the will of deities, and they have been widely accepted as the basis for civilization.

In most countries, the law is created by groups of politicians in a legislature, often called a parliament or congress, elected (chosen) by the governed peoples. Other nations have systems of law that are derived from other sources, such as common law or the Napoleonic Code.

The law consists of many branches, each covering different aspects of human conduct. For example, contract law deals with agreements to exchange goods and services; criminal law prevents the commission of crimes, and it punishes those who commit them; constitutional law outlines the important rights of the government and its relationship with the citizens; and administrative law covers the operation of all government agencies.

A lawyer, jurist or attorney is a professional who studies and argues the rules of law. Those who practice law typically use briefs describing the facts of a case and the reasons that a judge should rule in their favor. Many lawyers are also expert in specific areas of the law, such as tax law or intellectual property law.

Ideas for new laws are usually submitted to a legislative body, called a Congress, in the form of bills. These bills are numbered in the order in which they are introduced, and they become public laws, or acts, when they are passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.

Laws are complicated, and many legal writers have used humor or hyperbole to explain difficult concepts. However, this may not be a good way to convey the substance of law to the average reader. Moreover, technical jargon can obscure the meaning of the law for those who are not familiar with it. Consequently, it is essential for writers of law articles to keep the reader in mind. For this reason, most legal articles have an opening paragraph that explains the subject of the article in non-technical terms. Legal articles should also avoid overstating arguments that are not supported by sufficient evidence.