What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules that a government or society develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and other social relationships. It can also refer to the profession of those who advise people about the law or represent them in court.

A law may be written or unwritten, but it is always enforced by the state or society in which it exists. It is not just a collection of rules, but a set of principles that guides people in their daily lives and activities. The rules of a law are meant to keep order in a community and protect the rights of its members. In most countries, a constitution codifies these rules. The legal system is the basis for political life and it shapes politics, economics and history in every nation. There are many revolutions each year that seek to depose established legal authority and establish new laws, as well as a desire by many for democratic rule with greater “rights” for citizens.

The underlying concept of law is what John Austin called “commands, backed by the threat of sanction from a sovereign to which people have a habit of obedience.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other philosophers argued that law reflects a moral, ineffable order of nature. These ideas influenced utilitarian theory and dominated law in the twentieth century.

Different jurisdictions have different definitions of what the law is. Common law systems trace their roots to England, while civil law systems are based on the Napoleonic code and other European legal traditions. There are also some Western states that follow a mixed legal system, where they use both common and civil law.

In some religious societies, the law is a combination of divine scripture and further human elaboration through interpretation, Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent. The Jewish Halakha and Islamic Shari’a are two examples of such a system.

There are some legal scholars who argue that the concept of law needs to be more inclusive and include more than just commands backed by sanctions. They argue that there are also amoral acts that can be legal if they have a social benefit and a cost to the rest of the society.

Writing a law article is a complex task that requires an excellent knowledge of the subject and the ability to write in a clear and concise way. It is also important to be able to analyze a topic and provide an informed opinion on the issue. Law articles can range from simple commentary on recent legislation to full-length arguments against changes in the law. Articles about the law should be written with the aim of influencing public debate and promoting change. The article below demonstrates this by providing a critique of recently enacted changes to the law. Its tone is analytical and uses technical jargon to explain its argument. This makes it suitable for a law school journal but not for general circulation.