This book provides an introduction to the American legal system for a broad readership. Its focus is on law in practice, on the role of the law in American society; and how the social context affects the living law of the United States. It covers the institutions of law creation andapplication, law in American government, American legal culture and the legal profession, American criminal and civil justice, and civil rights. Clearly written, the book has been widely used in both undergraduate and graduate courses as an introduction to the legal system; it will be useful, too,to a general audience interested in understanding how this vital social system works. This new edition follows the same basic structure as applied in the previous editions providing a thorough revision and reworking of the text. This edition reflects upon what has happened in the years since the first edition was published in 1985, and how these events and evolutions have shaped our fundamental comprehension of the workings of the American legal system today.