What Is Law?


Law is the system of rules and customs imposed by a society and recognized as controlling the actions of its members. It is a branch of jurisprudence that includes public law, which regulates the activities of government agencies and the conduct of individuals and corporations; private law, which covers everything from contracts to estate planning; criminal law, which defines the rights and duties of people who commit crimes; and constitutional law, which determines how governments are structured and operates.

A law is a set of principles that dictates how two or more things behave under certain conditions, according to The Ohio State University. For example, the strength of gravity between two objects depends on their mass and distance apart, which is a law. Laws can also change through scientific research.

Laws govern people’s conduct and provide an orderly environment, but they are not always perfect. Conflicts may arise, for instance when people claim the same property. To resolve these conflicts, the legal system offers a forum to decide who owns property by applying law to the facts of each case.

In addition to civil, criminal, and family law, other areas of the law include torts, bankruptcy, maritime law, medical jurisprudence, and contract law. Courts have rules for the procedure of a lawsuit, and there are separate rules for administrative proceedings. Jury pools are screened to select the actual jury for each case, and lawyers for parties to a lawsuit are called litigants.