Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime and other problems. It also encompasses the people who work in this area. People who advise others about the law, represent them in court, and give rulings or punishments are called lawyers. Other jobs in the field of law include judges and prosecutors, and clerks who keep records.
The precise meaning of law varies widely and is influenced by culture, history, and social conditions. In general, it is a set of rules imposed by an authority which command what is right and prohibit what is wrong, with a high degree of consistency, certainty, and enforceability. Laws may be based on divine revelation, human tradition, customary practice, or natural reason and science.
Almost all nations have some form of government that is ruled by laws. Some countries have military dictatorships that make and enforce laws, but most are democratic, with a constitutionally established government. A major goal of a legal system is to provide stability, security and justice to its citizens. Civil wars are common in some nations and rebellious movements frequently arise to challenge existing political-legal authority.
A system of law reflects the values and traditions of a nation, its cultures and civilizations. It is a complex system with many parts, and it must be flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions and new situations. Some parts of a law are clearly defined, while other areas leave room for interpretation and creative jurisprudence.
Laws are written and enforced by the courts, a process that is often contentious and time-consuming. Courts must be unbiased and free from outside influences, such as political pressure or special interests. They must follow procedures that are transparent to the public and must be able to make decisions independently.
Legal systems are not the same in all nations, but they typically include a chief judge (also known as a supreme or high court justice) and a group of judges who decide cases on a trial basis. There is usually a chief court clerk (also known as a court administrator) who oversees the administration of the court and keeps records. Appeals are a type of legal proceeding in which one party challenges the judgment of another court or tribunal. The party requesting an appeal is known as the appellant. The decision on an appeal is made by a higher court, which is often known as the court of appeals or the supreme court. The decision of the appellate court is binding on the lower court.