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American LawAn Introduction$
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Lawrence M. Friedman and Grant M. Hayden

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190460587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460587.001.0001

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What Is a Legal System?

What Is a Legal System?

(p.1) 1 What Is a Legal System?
American Law

Lawrence M. Friedman

Grant M. Hayden

Oxford University Press

This chapter develops a working definition of law and the legal system that will be used throughout the book. Law is the set of rules and regulations enforced by the government. The formal law, though, is just part of a broader legal system that includes the structures, substance, and culture that breathe life into the law on the books. Together, law and the legal system function as both a method of social control and a means of dispute settlement. The final part of the chapter situates the American legal system in the broader realm of civil law and common law systems throughout the world.

Keywords:   law, legal system, civil law, common law

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