The law is a body of rules established by a community, enforced through its courts, and binding on its members. The law may be written or unwritten, and is enforced by courts, a police force, an army or other armed forces, or an executive body, such as a ministry of justice or a government. Laws may be designed to protect individuals, the environment, property or other social interests, and are often aimed at promoting social change. Laws may also be used to punish people for violating the rights of others.
The study of law is a vast and varied field. It encompasses the disciplines of criminology, criminal justice, public and private law, constitutional law, administrative law, common law, commercial law, family law and international law among others. Moreover, it deals with a wide range of subject matters such as international treaties, administrative law, human rights, contracts and torts.
Generally, there are four main purposes for the creation of laws: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberty and rights. The latter is achieved through fields such as civil law, which governs compensation for damages caused by negligence or defamation of character. Offenders of state, national or local law are prosecuted through the criminal law.
Many different theories are advanced to explain the nature of law. Utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham argue that law reflects the interests of the majority. Natural lawyers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believe that law reflects innate moral principles.
A key component of the law is precedent. This is the idea that earlier cases set a standard or pattern for later cases, and that decisions of higher courts are more influential than those of lower ones. This is why the case law of a jurisdiction is so important, as it enables judges to assess whether a particular legal theory or doctrine is likely to succeed or fail on the facts of a particular case.
Another important aspect of the law is its Uniformity. By ensuring that the same rules are applied in every case, the law protects the administration of justice from the dangers of arbitrary and dishonest individual judgement. It is for this reason that fixed principles are contained within the law, rather than leaving it to the discretion of the judge.
A career in the Law can be highly rewarding and lucrative for those who are well-qualified and willing to work hard. However, the work can be stressful and challenging and requires a lot of dedication and self-discipline. Many large Law firms offer extensive training and mentoring programs for young professionals and provide many opportunities for advancement. The Law can be a complex and fascinating discipline, and for those who enjoy a challenge it can be very satisfying. However, it is not for everyone and some people find the pressures of a career in Law overwhelming. For those who prefer a less-challenging career, there are a number of other options available.