The Importance of Law


Law is a system of rules enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior and ensure that members of a society adhere to core principles such as fairness, equity, equality and accountability. Law informs politics, economics, history and society in a variety of ways and provides the basis for many of life’s key decisions. The precise nature of law remains a matter of longstanding debate, though it is often described as a science or an art of justice.

In modern society, law governs many areas of people’s lives, ranging from the rights of citizens to privacy and personal property to employment laws and environmental regulations. These laws are enforceable by the state, which can make them through statutes and regulations or, in common law systems, through judge-made precedent (a doctrine known as stare decisis). The rules of criminal law set out punishments for breaking the law, while family law outlines the rights of couples who marry or separate. Tax law sets the rates and bases of taxation, while banking laws set standards for banks and regulate the movement of capital.

Legal professionals are called lawyers, solicitors and barristers in England, Australia and Canada respectively. In the United States, a lawyer can hold several degrees, including the Bachelor of Laws (B.L.) and the Doctor of Laws (J.D.). These degrees require extensive study of the law, legal procedure and theory. In addition to their legal knowledge, they must also be good communicators and have a strong understanding of people, business and society.

In the context of globalization, the importance of law is growing. The rule of law requires a stable government with transparent processes for making and enforcing laws. The rule of law also includes a set of fundamental human, procedural and property rights that are guaranteed to all citizens, regardless of wealth or social class.

The legal system can vary widely from nation to nation, with the most significant distinction being between civil law and common law systems. Civil law systems are found across the world and use categories, concepts and rules derived from Roman law and, to a lesser degree, canon law. They are usually supplemented or modified by local custom and culture. Common law systems, which are found in the Western world, allow judges to use precedent in deciding cases.

Religious law may also be considered part of law, with Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha guiding some societies’ legal system. Christian canon law also survives in some church communities. These religion-based laws are not subject to the same judicial review and are therefore generally seen as unalterable. However, the political-legal power that underpins such rules is still a subject of debate, with periodic revolts against established authority.