What Is Law?

Law is the body of rules a society recognizes as binding. This may be a set of laws that govern the behavior of citizens or it can refer to the legal system as a whole. It also refers to the profession of a lawyer or judge.

Law can serve many purposes for a nation-state: it can keep the peace, maintain social order, protect individuals against abuses of power by others, preserve the status quo, and enable peaceful transitions to new political systems. However, the principal functions of law depend on the people who have the political power to make and enforce laws. That is why revolutions occur regularly throughout the world as people attempt to change existing governments or the legal systems that support them.

Regardless of what they are called, laws must be consistent, fair, and easily understood. They must also be enforceable by the government, which means that it must have the money and other resources to do so. In a democracy, a citizen has the right to appeal a decision by the legal system to an independent court.

A court officer who oversees administrative functions, especially managing the flow of cases through a court. Typically, the clerk works for an appellate or district court.

A person who makes a word-for-word record of a court’s proceedings, often with the aid of a stenographic machine or shorthand. A transcript is usually available to the public. Occasionally, an en banc hearing occurs when all judges of a court sit together to hear a case, as opposed to the routine disposition by panels of three judges.