Throughout this text, you will encounter state statutes that were originally drafted as uniform acts. Uniform acts are model statutes drafted by private bodies of lawyers and scholars. They do not become law until a legislature enacts them. Their aim is to produce state-by-state uniformity on the subjects they address. Examples include the Uniform Commercial Code (which deals with a wide range of commercial law subjects), the Revised Uniform Partnership Act, and the Revised Model Business Corporation Act.
The common law (also called judge-made law or case law) is law made and applied by judges as they decide cases not governed by statutes or other types of law. Although common law exists only at the state level, both state courts and federal courts become involved in applying it. The common law originated in medieval England and developed from the decisions of judges in settling disputes. Over time, judges began to follow the decisions of other judges in similar cases, called precedents.
This practice became formalized in the doctrine of stare decisis (let the decision stand). As you will see later on, stare decisis is not completely rigid in its requirement of adherence to precedent. It is flexible enough to allow the common law to evolve to meet changing social conditions. The common law rules in force today, therefore, often differ considerably from the common law rules of earlier times.