Law is the set of rules that governs a society or organization. It may be created by the legislative process, resulting in statutes, or it may be established through judicial decisions resulting in case law. The precise nature of law is a subject of intense debate and the source of many scholarly fields, including legal history, philosophy, economic analysis, and sociology. Law influences politics, economics, and history, and raises important issues concerning equality and justice.
There are four main purposes of law: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. It is common for laws to punish people who break them with fines or imprisonment. Laws can also protect the property of people who own it. For example, tort law covers damages for injury to people or their property, while criminal law punishes actions that threaten public order.
Law is a vast field, covering everything from the legal rights of the disabled to the rules of chess. It is an ever-changing and expanding phenomenon, shaped by social, economic, political, and cultural factors. Laws can be based on principles of justice, fairness, and equality or they may be based on the natural world and its limitations. For example, the laws of physics cannot require behaviours that would be impossible or against human nature to perform. This article is about the legal system, but for more on legal education and training see the articles on the Legal profession and Legal education.