Law is a body of rules developed and enforced by governmental or civic organizations to control behavior, whose precise definition is largely a matter of longstanding debate and controversy. In common usage, it is usually taken to mean the code of conduct imposed by a government in specific situations. It is most commonly associated with civil law. Civil law comprises crimes against humanity, war, terrorism, kidnapping, abuse, and marriage. Criminal law is the body of law that prohibits conduct considered to be criminal, which includes felonies and misdemeanors.
Law is part of the human society and, in most countries, the governments maintain the rule of law through a system of laws, including customary law, constitutional law, judgments of the courts, writs of prohibition, executive orders, laws of marriage, divorce, adoption, property regulation, proscription, and judicial proceedings. Civil society is made up of individuals, groups, communities and organizations representing many different ethnic backgrounds, educational levels and professional interests. The role of the legal system is therefore multi-faceted and often overlapping with other societal organizations. Law is the source through which an individual legal advice from the professionals. The process of obtaining legal advice therefore involves analyzing the legal framework, examining the merits of the case and the potentials of success, and finally engaging in collaborative discussion with a legal professional. Individuals who have legal issues often seek the assistance of attorneys who practice in the particular fields of law that pertain to their own legal predicament.
Law in America has developed since the earliest days of the European settlers when legal professionals began immigrating to America to establish new homes. The first laws to be formulated were those that regulating the institution of marriage and followed thereafter to define the qualifications for members of the American colonies. Later in the 19th century, following the Industrial Revolution, the need for lawyers arose when government officials enforced the newly enacted Industrial Laws that protected workers from harm on the job. These laws also established rules for the administration of justice in towns and cities across America. Today there are many different types of laws covering everything from criminal law, property law, immigration law, family law, trusts, probate and trusts and corporate law.
A brief description of some of the most common areas of law includes, but is not limited to, civil law, corporate law, criminal law, family law, labor or employment law, probate and estates, tax laws, and administrative law. Civil law deals with disputes between individuals, organizations or government agencies and is subdivided into two main branches – judicial law and common law. Judicial law is recognized by the United States Constitution as having Constitutional mandates, whereas, common law is recognized by all nations as the paramount law system. Common law is the body of law that governs our country through decisions made by judges, tribunals and law courts. Some of the major cases related to common law include: wrongful death, divorce, child custody, property management and business matters.
Administrative law is any legal system governed by laws which were enacted by the states, other governmental jurisdictions or by the executive branch of the government. Examples of such laws include: civil procedure, business laws, probate, naturalization, insurance, tax, litigation, and trusts. Immigration and citizenship laws are included within the area of civil law. Within the area of immigration laws there are laws relating to aliens, deportation, naturalization and abuse. There are also international laws that are enforced by the United States and international laws that are recognized around the world.
All three branches of the American legal system are designed to help maintain a society that operates peacefully and is free from unjust laws and unfair practices by government officials. The legislative branch of government exists to enact laws that help protect individual rights, property rights, economic security and religious liberty. Legislation may be passed by either the representatives of the majority or the minority in a legislature or by the people, through a referendum, as in the US House of Representatives or the US Senate. If a law is passed by the legislature, it becomes a law. Every bill that becomes a law has an automatic effect on all other laws. The court system is used to provide remedies and interpret laws.
The legal systems of many countries, including the US, have recognized certain principles of religious law. The European Court on Human Rights, which is located in Strasbourg, France, has become the authoritative body for interpreting international human rights law. The European Court can provide protection to people who have been subjected to violations of their human rights while traveling abroad, or who have been imprisoned in foreign countries. It can also protect their families from torture and other human rights abuses.
In practice, the courts are expected to apply a deference to the wishes of the people who approved a constitution, since the people are the true creators of the political system. The concept of representative government is still considered fairly new in the United States. In European practices, however, the concept of separation of powers has long been recognized. Separate powers should act independently of one another and cannot be allowed to override the decisions of the other branches of government. This separation of powers idea underlies much of the current legal system of the United States.