Law is the system of rules a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members. It encompasses a wide variety of subjects and debates, from criminal law, family law, and social security law to international law and major theories of legal process and organization. Oxford Reference offers concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries for all of these topics and more.
The main purposes of law are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. Different legal systems fulfill these purposes differently. For example, an authoritarian government may keep the peace and maintain the status quo but it can also oppress minorities and limit social change. A democratic government, on the other hand, promotes liberty and enshrines a variety of rights in its constitution.
A legal scholar who has specialized in the study of law is called a jurist or attorney. Jurists have a unique perspective on the relationship between law and society. They study the historical development of law, how the meanings of laws change over time, and the effects of law on the behavior of citizens. They also analyze the role of the state in a democracy and in other political systems and analyze the impact of law on economic and cultural values.
The field of law covers all aspects of human activities and interactions, including property, contracts, employment, family, and criminal matters. In addition, it encompasses the ways in which law is created and enforced and the structure of a nation’s legal institutions. The law is a complex subject with many interrelated areas of specialization.
Some subjects of law include torts, which provide compensation to individuals who are harmed by the negligent or intentional acts of others. Criminal law, on the other hand, governs offenses against a person or persons, such as murder and robbery.
There are also several subfields of civil and administrative law, including constitutional law, administrative law, and contract law. Constitutional law examines the rights of an individual in a society, while administrative law addresses how governments manage and regulate industries such as electricity, gas, water, and airlines. Contract law involves the creation and enforcement of contracts between people or businesses.
The law also includes areas of specialization such as environmental law, terrorism law, labor law, and immigration and nationality law. Environmental law regulates the use and protection of natural resources, such as air and water. Labor law addresses the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, employee and trade union. It also covers issues such as occupational safety and health. Finally, immigration and nationality law govern the rights of individuals to live and work in a nation-state that is not their own and the issue of citizenship. In addition, the law includes legal research and writing. This is important for attorneys and judges who must write their rulings and opinions, as well as for scholars who examine and evaluate the law. This is an area of law in which a wide range of scholarly disciplines are employed, including philosophy, history, sociology, and anthropology.