Official State of Iowa Website

Types of Law

The law can give us rights and tell us how to enforce those rights. For example, you have the right not to be fired from your job because of your race. If you were fired, you could bring a lawsuit to enforce that right.  

The law can also place limits on our behavior and give us affirmative obligations. For example, we are not allowed to steal other people’s property, and we must pay taxes on our income.  

The “law” is more than just one thing. Types of law include: Icon of book with law written on cover and spine

  • Statutes (passed by the legislature) 

  • Case law (written by judges) 

  • Regulations (created by administrative agencies, like the IRS) 

  • Administrative decisions (written by administrative agencies) 

  • Ordinances (created by local governments) 

When you are trying to determine which laws affect your situation, more than one of these categories may apply. In some cases, it can get complicated figuring out the different types of law that apply to your situation!