What is Law?

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  • Written By: Michael Anissimov
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2018
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Law is a system of rules a society sets to maintain order and protect harm to persons and property. Such systems are ancient, dating back at least to the Code of Hammurabi, written by an ancient Babylonian king around 1760 BC. Today, most countries have tens or hundreds of thousands of pages of laws. They are enforced by the police, supported by the court and prison systems. Laws are written by legislators, such as senators or congressmen. In America and many other countries, these rules must uphold and not contradict the Constitution, a document outlining the most basic rules of the country.

Aside from law being a set of rules, the word also refers to the profession practiced by lawyers, who either prosecute or defend a client from an accusation of violating the law. Becoming a lawyer requires attending law school and passing a bar exam. This entitles the lawyer to a license. Only lawyers with a license are allowed to practice.

There are many categories of law. These include contract, property, trust, tort, criminal, constitutional, administrative, and international. Each of these sets the rules for a distinct area of human activity. Without laws, there is lawlessness, which historically has led to a general breakdown in society, sometimes to the point of a near-standstill in the economy. Those that advocate the abolition of all laws are called anarchists.


Depending on one's political orientation, they will generally favor more or less law. At one end of the spectrum are libertarians, who advocate minimal rules or government intervention into the affairs of the public. At the other end are fascists, who seek to create laws regulating practically everything, generally under the assumption that a disciplined nation will be a powerful nation. Historically, most fascist governments have collapsed.


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Post 44

Thanks for all the great advice. I told my friend I would help her find a family law lawyer and this is really good advice.

Post 42

does the law change as other rules change in some societies?

Post 40

Why there are some laws which society is against if law comes from society? --ann3

Post 38

What is the difference between rules and law?

Post 37

What do we do? In many of our countries today, law has been subjected to sociological connections of the highly placed, mostly in the government and the financially solvent instead of being subjected to true investigations and proof. What do we do? Chris D., Law student

Post 36

Does a society need rules to maintain order?

Post 35

Why do we need laws in society? What are the positive laws and natural laws?

Post 34

what is the distinction/difference between law and morality?

Post 33

Law is necessary because, as humans, we are basically untrustworthy to do the proper thing. We are incapable of balancing our own selfish needs with those of our society.

Post 32

there is no law in the entire nation.

Post 31

The law is made for man and not man for the law. But, I wonder why the highly placed in the society live above the law, and the law weighs down on the masses. I wonder!

Peter E. University of Port Harcourt.

Post 29

The origin of law is from God setting the do's and don'ts. Rules and regulations to ensure the protection of life and property and to maintain orderliness.

Laws could only be passed by those in whom God imbued wisdom and understanding. King Solomon could be set as an example. Barrister Olumide I., Lagos Nigeria

Post 28

is natural law not equivalent to eternal law/divine law?

Post 27

we don't have laws, only forced state policies set to make judges and lawyers money. when a killer kills, it's the victims fault. when a women is raped it's her fault for the way she dresses, and when a car thief knocks down a child and kills the wee mite, it is not the car thief's fault, it's societies fault that he's got nothing to do.

It is not about justice for the victims -- it's about making money for the lawyers and judges. Most judges are out of touch with society.

Post 26

Law is common sense which is understood only by those who posses sense.


Post 25

the concept of law simply means those principles that keep people from acting like they are living in the jungle or in a place with no rules.

Post 22

what is the importance of law in the society?

Post 21

how can law come from society when society is the one that abuses it? It's a simple case of correlation being mistaken for causation.

law comes from the individual.

Post 19

would you agree that since law is found in almost all societies, law comes from the society?

Post 18

my self i want to know more about the source of the law and how people maintain the rule of law in a third world country like Tanzania, and how this law helps people to get your rights. and how this law can benefit people to solve your problems facing people?

Post 15

what is the relation of law with the society?

Post 14

what is the role of law in the peace and prosperity of the nation?

Post 13

1.How do other professionals depend on law?

2.What is the importance of law to other professionals?

Post 12

Absolutely right. Without the knowledge of law a person loses his freedom. Because our constitution has given us certain rights and if we are not aware of those rights then we don't know what are our rights and we then lose confidence and think, "is this right. am i doing the right thing?" That's why for one's freedom, one should know and respect the law.

Post 11

without the knowledge of law(s) a people loses their freedom? how?

Post 10

There are only a few laws and a whole lot of statutes. Most of the times, the statutes do not hold up to the constitution.

International law is how business is conducted. It is also known as the law of the water. A part of why countries have currency, or why countries run on currents.

We are under the law of the land.

Natural law is the only true law. In fact natural laws are almost always so powerful, that you can not successfully break them.

Majority of people live under laws that they have very little ideal about.

Without the knowledge of law(s), a people are easily manipulated. Some examples.... taxes, motor vehicle

, family, and so many others, mislead people into free giving up their rights.

So why there are laws, they are actually only put there to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens.

Laws today in their form, do exactly opposite of protecting freedoms and rights, and in fact do more of protecting law makers and handlers.

Without the knowledge of law(s), a people looses their freedom. Without freedom, you're only liberated.-- lssr

Post 9

when is law valid and when it is invalid?

Post 6

Law is an axe, having two edges. Confirm this statement and relate it to the contract law.

Post 5

1. What are the sources of law?

2. Discuss the major forms of justice.

Post 2

What is Natural Law?

Post 1

what exactly law is has eluded jurists and philosophers alike and yet there can be no society without law.

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