The Study of Law

Law is a system of rules (either written or unwritten) that governs behaviour in a society. It sets out rights and responsibilities, and punishes those who break them. It serves many purposes in a nation, including keeping the peace, maintaining social order and the status quo, protecting people from oppressive majorities, preserving individual rights and liberties, promoting justice and providing for peaceful social change.

Most countries use either a civil law system, where laws are compiled from detailed codes, or a common law system where judges’ decisions form the basis of law. The principle of’stare decisis’, whereby previous court decisions are binding on future judges in similar cases, is an important part of the legal system.

While it is possible to study law as a separate subject, in practice lawyers must be well-rounded and understand all aspects of human life and society in order to defend their clients’ interests and uphold the principles of justice. Hence, the study of law is an integral part of a university education and is increasingly becoming a popular career choice.

The study of law is divided into three main areas for convenience, though the subjects often overlap and intertwine. Labour law, for example, includes the relationship between employer, employee and trade union, whereas criminal and civil procedure involves the rules that courts must follow to ensure a fair trial and appeals process. Property law encompasses land and personal property, with the latter ranging from cars and computers to intellectual property and trusts.

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