Law is a set of rules made by a government that citizens must obey or face punishment. For example, it is against the law in most places to steal, so if someone steals something they might be fined or even put in jail. The word “law” can also be used more broadly to mean all the laws of a nation or state, including criminal and civil laws.
A lawyer or judge is a person who practices law. People who study law are called legal scholars. They often focus on how the law is created, interpreted, and enforced, as well as the role of courts in a country’s political system.
Jurisprudence is the study of law and how it works in a courtroom. Other important topics include criminal justice, property law, and legal ethics.
The most basic purpose of a legal system is to punish those who break the law and reward those who follow it. Other important functions of a legal system include maintaining social stability, protecting minorities against majorities, and fostering social change. Different legal systems serve these purposes differently.
Law is unique from many other disciplines and sciences in that it has a normative nature. That means it tells people how they ought to behave and what they should require from others, rather than describing natural phenomena (such as the law of gravity) or explaining economic or scientific principles (such as supply and demand). This feature makes law challenging from a methodological standpoint.