Generally speaking, law is a set of rules enforceable by social or governmental institutions. It shapes the society and history we live in.
The term “law” is also used to refer to the practice of law. This involves the drafting of contracts between two or more individuals. It is also the process of bringing charges against someone.
The legal profession is an important part of people’s access to justice. In some countries, public defenders represent individuals who cannot afford their own lawyers. In some countries, religious law survives in church communities. Historically, the concept of “natural law” was re-introduced into mainstream culture by the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
In common law systems, courts explicitly recognize the decisions they make as “law.” The law is derived from court decisions, as well as from decisions of the executive branch. Several jurisdictions, such as the United States, have developed the doctrine of precedent. This means that the decisions of higher courts bind lower courts.
A lawsuit is a court proceeding in which a person (the plaintiff) files a complaint against another (the defendant). During a trial, the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. The plaintiff presents evidence to show that the defendant committed a legal wrong.
The process of discovery helps lawyers prepare for a trial. During a trial, a judge instructs the jury about the evidence presented. A judge’s instructions are called the charge to the jury.
A jury is a group of persons chosen from a pool of randomly selected voters. During deliberations, the jurors sometimes become sequestered from external influences.