Law is the set of rules enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate, with it being variously described as a science and as the art of justice. Law is one of the most important and complex forms of human organisation, with its consequences reaching into every aspect of life.
Law is also the subject of a large number of scholarly fields, such as legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It raises many important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness and justice. For example, it is important to ensure that laws are transparent and accountable, but it is also necessary to protect citizens from the excesses of governmental agencies and military forces, especially when these are used against non-combatants.
The field of law encompasses both public and private regulation, and it can be applied to anything from commercial transactions to space travel. It deals with international agreements and treaties, but it also regulates businesses that manage essential services such as water, electricity and gas. It can also be used to prevent crimes like terrorism, drug trafficking and fraud.
Civil law covers relationships between individuals, with the most prominent examples being marriage and contract. This is different from criminal law, which deals with actions that are deemed harmful to the community and must be punished. It is also the name given to a system of law that has been codified into small books that are easy to read and understand. This has been done in most countries, with the French Code Civil and German Bürgergesetzbuch (civil code) being among the most influential.
Religious law, meanwhile, entails guidelines for behavior drawn from religious precepts. Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia are two examples of this, while Christian canon law survives in some church communities.
The practice of law involves advising clients about legal issues and representing them in court proceedings. This area of work is growing in popularity, as it offers an interesting career path for many people. Lawyers are regulated by either government or independent regulating bodies, and they must obtain qualifications before practicing. Articles about the law typically include information about these regulations, as well as discussing current legal issues and commenting on proposed changes to legislation. The language used in these articles tends to be more technical than that found in popular media, but it is not uncommon for them to take a stand on controversial legislative changes. This is especially true for articles that focus on specific areas of the law. See legal profession, legal education and legal ethics for further details.