Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It can also be used to refer to the people who work in this system, such as lawyers and judges.
Law can serve different purposes in a nation, depending on the country and its political system. It may keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change.
Legal systems are often based on concepts, categories, and rules derived from Roman law, sometimes supplemented or modified by local custom or culture. They are usually divided into civil law, criminal law, and international law.
Civil law, which covers about 60% of the world’s countries, is a tradition that emphasizes cooperation among individuals. It is a secularized version of the classical Roman law tradition, but it also places emphasis on a person’s freedom to make decisions and act in accordance with their beliefs and values.
Criminal law, which is more common in the United States and Europe, deals with crimes. It includes laws that punish a person who commits a crime and the procedure for prosecuting them.
Other types of law are also important to society, such as property law, contracts, and intellectual property law. These fields deal with issues that affect the way people live their lives and make decisions about their property, such as buying or selling a house, getting a job, and making contracts.
In the legal profession, lawyers are professionals who practice the law and advise clients on their rights or represent them in court. They earn a special qualification through the completion of a formal legal education (e.g., a bachelor’s degree or higher) and are regulated by the laws of the country in which they live or practice.
Lawyers have a distinct professional identity and are subject to oversight by a regulating body such as a bar association, bar council, or law society.
They must pass a qualifying exam before they can begin to practice law and are governed by certain laws, including professional ethics and the rules of the court in which they practice.
Some lawyers have a special designation such as a solicitor, barrister, attorney or counsel. They also may be qualified to practise in several jurisdictions or have more than one specialty, such as bankruptcy law or evidence.
A lawyer’s duty is to act in good faith and in the best interests of his client. It is also his duty to give due consideration to the facts of the case and to apply the law in a fair and reasonable manner.
Precedent is a court decision in an earlier case with facts and law similar to the dispute at hand, which will normally be followed by the court unless it can be shown that it was wrongly decided. It is sometimes used to help determine the right course of action in a case, and may be binding or not.