What Is Law and How Does It Affect Us?


Law is a set of rules created by the state which forms a framework to ensure a peaceful society. If these rules are broken they can be enforced and sanctions imposed. The law influences politics, economics, history and society in many ways and is the basis for relationships between people. The legal system also aims to support ethical norms in our daily lives.

Generally speaking, laws are interpreted by judges in a court of law and can be changed by legislation or constitutional amendments. However, the legal system can also be influenced by different philosophies of law – schools of legal thought. For example, some philosophies of law emphasise the natural right and duty of both government and the governed. Others emphasize long-standing patterns of domination by the rich over the poor or of men over women and therefore stress the need for more gender equality.

A judge is a person who solves conflicts between individuals or between groups of people. They decide whether a person is guilty of breaking the law, determine what punishment they should receive or whether to award compensation. In some countries this is done by a panel of judges (a jury). In other countries a single judge may make these decisions. Judges are usually trained professionals. Their jobs can include interpreting the law, deciding disputes, writing contracts and advising on business affairs. In the United States these professionals are called attorneys, in England they are solicitors or barristers.

Judges are usually supervised by other professionals, such as prosecutors and defence counsel. They must take a oath to be impartial, objective and fair. They are also not allowed to use their position as a judge to further their political or career ambitions. This is a major reason why there is always a debate about the composition of the judiciary and whether it should be more diverse.

The law is also shaped by religious and cultural traditions and values. It is a very complicated subject with multiple dimensions. A large amount of research is needed in order to understand the different aims of the legal system and how it functions in practice. This is particularly true because the law is constantly evolving – new laws are passed and old ones replaced by newer versions. The law also changes when it is influenced by international agreements such as treaties and what is known as customary international law. Moreover, it is important to distinguish between different types of law and understand which laws have priority over each other. For example, state and federal laws might conflict with each other or a national law might be contrary to an international obligation. This is a complex topic and requires deep knowledge of the legal system, constitutions, international law and the different types of laws. Only then can the complexity of the legal system be fully appreciated. Ultimately, it is a vital tool to protect individual rights and prevent abuses of power by governments or individuals.