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John of England signs Magna CartaThe law is the body of rules of a society that are enforceable through a system of courts. Laws may be created by legislatures or, in common law jurisdictions, by the courts. They regulate relations between individuals (private law); between individuals and the state (public law); and between different states (international law). The word law derives from the late Old English lagu, meaning something laid down or fixed.

Laws vary widely between different countries and even, in some cases, within countries. An area in which a particular set of laws holds is called a jurisdiction.

Practice of law is typically overseen by either a government organization or independent regulating body such as a bar association, bar council, barrister society, or law society. To practice law, the regulating body must certify the practitioner. This usually entails a two or three-year program at a university faculty of law or a law school, which earns the student a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Civil Law or a Juris Doctor degree. This course of study is followed by an entrance examination (e.g. bar admission). Some countries require a further vocational qualification before a person is permitted to practise law. In the case of those wishing to become a barrister, this would lead to a Barrister-at-law degree, followed by a year's apprenticeship (sometimes known as pupillage or devilling) under the oversight of an experienced barrister (or master). Advanced law degrees are also often pursued, though they are academic degrees and are not required for the practice of law. These include a Master of Laws, a Master of Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws.

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