Law is a set of rules that regulate behavior and protect rights. It is created and enforced by governmental or social institutions to serve four principal purposes: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights.
Law includes a wide range of practices, from simple contract law to complex property and criminal laws. It also encompasses legal concepts such as ethics and fairness, and judicial procedures such as litigation and jury selection.
The definition of law has long been a matter of dispute. Some philosophers argue that it is a science, while others claim it is an art of justice.
In the United States, law is primarily governed by the Constitution and by state and federal statutes adopted through legislation. In contrast, in other countries, laws are established by judicial decisions that are enforceable on equal footing with legislation.
There are different types of laws, including statutory law (written by legislators), administrative law (issued by the executive) and common law (decisions by judges). The term “law” has become more commonly used to describe both judicial and legislative decision-making processes.
A person who specializes in law is called a lawyer. They are regulated by professional bodies to ensure professionalism and quality. In most countries, lawyers are able to establish their own professional identity through specified legal procedures, such as being admitted to the bar and passing a qualifying examination. They are usually referred to as barristers or solicitors, but can also be called attorneys.