What Is Law?

Law is a system of rules that helps ensure that a society is peaceful and organized. It is made up of many different parts, including property laws, criminal laws and constitutional laws. Laws also help people resolve disputes and protect their liberties and rights. In most countries today, the law is based on a constitution (written or tacit), which lists important rights and gives people some control over the government. The law is enforced by police or courts, and those who break the law can be punished.

The law is a complex topic, and different people have lots of different ideas about what it is. Some philosophers have used the word to mean something like “commands, backed by the threat of sanctions, from a sovereign authority, to which people have a habit of obedience.” Others have used the term more broadly, to include ideas that are moral and unchangeable. For example, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s idea of natural law argued that people obey laws because they are good and right.

Laws cover a wide range of topics, including property (such as land or buildings), business transactions and contracts, intellectual property like music, art or words, and the rights of people and groups to name themselves, such as trademarks and names of companies. Law also includes the ways that people can make claims to compensation when they or their property is damaged or harmed, such as in accidents or libel.

Most laws are created by governments, but some are written by private businesses or organizations, such as charities or churches. The way the law is made depends on the culture of the country, but in most places laws are drafted and voted on by politicians in a parliament or congress. The law can also be changed, or repealed, by voters in a referendum.

A person who studies the law is called a lawyer, jurist or attorney. They are professionals who can help people understand the law, and they can act as a witness in court. They can also help write contracts and other documents.

The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy is one of the five most widely-circulated student-edited law journals in the world. The journal publishes three issues each year on a broad range of legal and public policy topics, including military commissions, gun control, same-sex marriage, and the Patriot Act. The journal also has a number of symposia on key legal topics, such as the War on Terror and Law and the Military.