Law is a system of rules, enforced by a controlling authority, which governs and protects the interests of individuals and communities. It serves four fundamental purposes: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. Law relates to the entire spectrum of human life from the most trivial personal matters to the most complex economic and social problems. It is a highly interdisciplinary subject, with connections to philosophy; ethics; history; political science and sociology. The study of law is a rewarding career choice, with many options for specialization and advancement.
The field of law includes all the activities related to the administration, development and interpretation of laws. Its practitioners include lawyers, judges and government officials. In addition, it includes scholars who are involved in the process of defining and analyzing legal concepts and principles. Law is a vital part of our society, and is often seen as one of the main components of a democracy.
There are several areas of specialization within the field of Law, including public law and private law. Public law encompasses all the laws of a country, state or municipality, which regulate everything from public health and safety to civil rights, the constitution and electoral processes. Public law also includes the body of law that determines how to allocate resources in a fair and efficient manner, such as taxes, natural resource management and the environment.
Private law, on the other hand, deals with the rules that regulate how people interact with each other in a business context. For example, it covers contracts; trade unions; and the various regulations that govern the insurance industry. There are a number of different types of private law, such as employment law; intellectual property law; and family law.
Law is based on an ancient and continually evolving set of principles, theories and concepts. The study of these is known as legal philosophy or jurisprudence. Among these are the ideas that laws should be based on clear expression of rights and duties, advance disclosure of rules, silence in a code to be filled by common sense or by general principles, the avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency.
Because of the nature of law, there is no way to empirically prove its content. Moreover, its shape is determined by the limitations of the physical world and can therefore never mandate behaviours that are unattainable or force people to do things that they cannot physically do. As such, the concept of law is largely dependent on human interpretation and mental operations. This is evident, for example, in the long-lasting debates about whether judges should be politically neutral; or even have any political affiliation at all. In addition, a great deal of dispute surrounds the issue of how much influence past legal decisions should have on future rulings. This is the subject of precedent and precedential law. Then there are those who argue that judges should be able to apply their own sense of right and wrong when interpreting the law.