Law is a body of rules that are enforced by a society to govern relationships between people and businesses. Some laws are made by government, while others are created and enforceable through private agreement. Law shapes politics, economics and society in many ways, raising issues about fairness, equality and justice. Law encompasses a wide range of topics, including contracts, property, trusts, criminal law, constitutional law and administrative law.
An important aspect of law involves the use of authority to control behavior and force people to do things. Authority may be exercised by social or governmental institutions, such as the courts, police or military. This authority is often based on the notion of right and wrong, although this concept is not always clear-cut or objective. A lawful authority has the power to compel behavior, while an unlawful authority does not.
In addition to imposing rules, law can also promote particular values or policies, such as the rule of law, democracy and civil rights. It can also serve to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, protect minorities from majorities, or provide for orderly social change. Some legal systems do a better job of serving these purposes than others.
The law can be defined as a collection of rules that govern a specific type of activity, relationship or crime. The term can also be used more broadly to refer to a body of laws or a set of rules, such as the country’s political asylum law.
A lawyer studies and interprets laws to help people who are arguing their cases in court. Lawyers are sometimes called advocates or advocates for their clients. They must present their client’s case in a way that will persuade judges and other court staff members to accept their arguments and decide the case in favor of their client. A lawyer can also be described as a counselor or advisor, because the job of counseling clients is a significant part of what lawyers do.
A law student can learn about the law by studying a variety of texts, including books on constitutional law and criminal law. Some colleges and universities also offer a special law library where students can find materials on different aspects of the law. A law clerk can be hired to assist a judge with research or drafting opinions, while a librarian is needed to meet the informational needs of judges and lawyers. An appellate court can review a district or superior court’s decision, but is bound by the decisions of other appellate courts that can review their decisions. In rare cases, the supreme court of the United States will consider an appeal. This is known as sitting en banc. A lower court may also sit en banc for certain high profile cases. A person who files a lawsuit is called a plaintiff or petitioner. Those who defend themselves in court are called defendants or respondents. If a plaintiff or respondent is not represented by a lawyer, they are said to be proceeding pro se, meaning “on their own behalf.” In some courts, this means they are suing without paying a fee on the grounds that they cannot afford one.