What Is Law?


Law is all the rules and regulations that govern a society. It covers a wide variety of topics, from civil rights and responsibilities to criminal laws and military operations. The study of law can lead to careers in counseling people about their legal options and representing them in court. The word “law” is also used to describe the legal system and its institutions, such as the court of appeals, the Supreme Court, and the state courts.

The law is a set of rules established by the government to guide and regulate behavior. Its main functions are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. The rule of law is an essential component of democracy, but it can deteriorate if the courts are not sufficiently independent from the legislature and the executive branch.

There are several different types of law, including civil law, criminal law and administrative law. Each type of law has its own distinct characteristics and uses. Civil law applies to private, personal matters such as contract, property and torts. Criminal law involves violations of the public’s moral and ethical codes. Administrative law outlines how the government will function.

While it is common for the term “law” to be used synonymously with the rules and regulations of a particular area, it has a more specific meaning in science. Scientific laws are descriptions — often mathematical descriptions — of natural phenomena, such as Newton’s Law of Gravity or Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment. They do not explain why or how the phenomena occur, but they are indisputable facts. It is a common misconception that a theory becomes a law with enough research, but this is not true. Theories and laws are separate concepts, according to The Ohio State University.

In the United States, the Constitution gives Congress responsibility for organizing the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, raising revenue and declaring war. The President is allowed to veto certain legislative acts, but Congress can bypass the president’s objections by a two-thirds majority vote of both houses of Congress.

The Supreme Court is a vital part of the legal system, interpreting the nation’s highest laws and deciding cases that may affect the entire country. The Justices are expected to be impartial and treat all parties fairly. If a member of the Supreme Court believes that a lower court has made an incorrect ruling, they can request the case be reviewed by the entire court.

For more information on the rule of law and its importance to a democratic society, visit the World Justice Project website. The WJP conducts independent surveys to measure the state of the rule of law worldwide and publishes its results in a series of annual reports. It is a source of original, independent and trustworthy data that is used by policy makers, citizens, businesses and legal professionals across the globe. This resource is free to use for all Loyola students and faculty members with a valid Loyola ID.