Law is a set of rules and regulations established by a society or group that control behavior. Although the precise definition of law is a matter of long-standing debate, it is generally accepted that law defines what is or is not permissible and provides a basis for imposing sanctions on those who violate it. A society’s law may be in the form of written statutes or unwritten custom and practice, but it may also be a system of laws or a set of principles enforced by courts.
Legal systems differ from country to country and even within a single nation-state, but they usually fall into groups or patterns with some common features. Typically, they are based on historically accepted justice ideals and are developed through the processes of legislative enactment, judicial decision-making and legal tradition.
A legal system reflects the values of a society and the way people perceive fairness, justice and privacy. Law is an integral part of a social order that allows for individual freedoms and regulates a broad range of human activities, such as private ownership, employment and commerce.
Those who study and practice law, also known as lawyers or attorneys, must follow strict professional standards and are subject to a variety of regulatory procedures. To become a lawyer, individuals must pass a rigorous exam and have a special degree (such as a Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor). In some countries, lawyers must be licensed by a government or independent regulating body to gain a distinct professional identity.