What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions that regulate behavior. Its precise definition is the subject of longstanding debate. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. Its main purposes are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. Some legal systems are more successful than others at fulfilling these purposes.

The most important areas of law are contract law, tort law and property law. Contract law governs the formation, performance and enforcement of contracts, while tort laws cover civil wrongs such as negligence, defamation and trespass. Property law deals with the acquisition, use and transfer of ownership in goods and land. A separate field of law, evidence law, regulates which materials are admissible in courts for a case to be built.

While there is no one agreed-upon definition of law, most scholars agree that law is a system of rules that regulates human conduct and may be enforced by controlling authorities through penalties. Some scholars believe that law is a product of the mind of man, while others think it is immanent in the universe and independent of human action.

The best place to start research on any topic is with secondary sources such as legal journals, practice guides and scholarly articles. These sources provide a thorough overview of the topic and give you a jumping-off point for your research. They will often cite and reference important statutes, cases and legal encyclopedias for you.