The Study of Law


Law is a set of rules created and enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior.[1] Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate.[2]

The most straightforward interpretation of law is that it is a set of rules that must be followed. The purpose of laws is to control human behavior and to ensure a peaceful society. The state enforces these rules through mechanisms such as fines or imprisonment.

Laws are often created by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; or by the executive through decrees and regulations; or by judges, with broader legal weight referred to as precedent (in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals may also create legally binding contracts such as arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation.

All laws are subject to interpretation, as humans – including judges and attorneys – are not perfect. Consequently, even a well-intentioned law can be misinterpreted or applied differently in different situations. The study of law, therefore, is all about exploring these nuances in order to better understand how the law works. This includes the study of case law, where judges’ decisions are read for the purpose of selecting those that reflect similar situations and can be used as precedents in future cases. It also involves studying the history of law, how and why it has evolved over time in various parts of the world.