Understanding the Basics of Law

Law refers to the set of rules of conduct that must be obeyed by members of a society. These rules are derived from either custom or legislation.

A legal rule is imperative or mandatory, commanding what must be done; prohibitory, restraining what should not be done; or permissive, allowing what may be done without incurring a penalty. Laws are also based on universally accepted principles such as the essential justness of the rules or the sovereign power of a parliament to enact them.

General laws relate to the nature of things, and include those arising from the relations of the human race to its Creator. These may be called divine laws, which have their origin in the will of a deity; natural laws, which are governed by the laws of nature, and antedate any positive precept of a god or the will of man; and moral laws, which prescribe the proper duties of human conduct.

The rules of law are regulated by government officials who are given the authority to enforce them. These laws are important because they ensure everyone’s rights are protected.

There are several sources of law, including federal and state statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions. Students learn how to locate these sources of law in order to research and write about them. In addition, they will learn to cite them using basic citation rules and format.