What Is Law?


The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. It provides a framework for resolving disputes, ensures social order and promotes justice. It also protects individual rights and promotes democratic change. Some legal systems serve these goals better than others.

A legal system’s laws define rights and duties of people, groups and the government. Those laws are enforceable by courts of justice, a process known as adjudication. Laws govern a wide range of issues including property, contracts, crimes and treason. Laws may be constitutional, statutory or judicial.

Some of the most challenging concepts in law involve ethics, morality and the limits of a society’s power. For example, the right to privacy is a difficult issue for some because it can limit freedom of speech and expression. Other challenges include the difficulty of defining criminal and civil justice and the limits on the power of a governing body.

Lawyers work on both the substantive and the procedural aspects of law. The substantive areas of law deal with the content of a constitution, statute or treaty, while the procedural areas of law address the methods used to implement and enforce the statutes and treaties.

The substantive and procedural aspects of law are a rich source for scholarly inquiry in such fields as historical analysis, philosophy and sociology. In addition, laws pose many complex questions in the context of equality and justice.

Laws begin as ideas, and the process by which they become laws is complex. A bill starts out as a draft sponsored by a legislator, then is assigned to committee for study and debate. If released, it goes to the floor for voting and can be amended or defeated. If it passes, the bill is sent to the other house of Congress where it undergoes a similar process. If it passes both houses, the bill is signed into law by the president and becomes a federal law.

The practical application of a law is the responsibility of lawyers and legal professionals in the various branches of government and private enterprise. This community of practitioners and clients can be formed in a physical or virtual forum. Whether it is an in-house legal department, a law firm or external provider, the community can be a source of valuable insight into risks and opportunities for your organisation. The community can also provide an opportunity to share information about best practice and other legal issues of relevance in your sector or industry. This can be a key source of competitive advantage. In addition, the community can help you maintain a relationship with your external providers that is mutually beneficial. This can save you time and money by allowing you to leverage their expertise.