Volume 10, Issue 9
Hey guys, at Corkman Commiserations a friend of mine asked where they can upskill and get into the exciting world that is computer programming. Computers are everywhere and the average person is pretty shitty at using them. I believe, that to survive in the modern world (not to mention the job market) this is a skill people need to have. I'm not adept at the ~*art*~ but there's no excuse for not getting into programming: it's relatively easy, useful and employers absolutely froth on it. Best part is, due to the free (as in freedom) nature of computer science communities, there's a lot of information available for free online, you just need to know where to look.
This guide is curated to give you only the briefest snapshot. You won't be able to produce the next Snapchat, but the fact of the matter is: you don't have to. A lot of the stuff floating around in the legal technology market isn't the flashest, it doesn't shine, whirr, or even handle memory that fantastically, but it gets the job done. From what I've seen in the industry, lawyers aren't going to tech firms for tech solutions, they're going to other lawyers. It comes down to trust. Corporate lawyers just don't trust the tech world to create products to meet their needs, and won't risk providing lacklustre advice to their clients because they relied on some nerd's one's and zeroes.
WHAT LANGUAGE SHOULD I LEARN?
This is a question that plagues and intimidates many novices. There are so many choices that one may find themselves not far from the Economist's critique of Obama's first term “paralysis by analysis.”
Although as a law student, I'm always drawn to books, this is one subject where books are largely irrelevant. Fuck books. Just get stuck in. Sure, Bill Gates said that if anyone can read every volume in The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth from cover to cover, then they should definitely send him their CV/Resume, but go into any classroom and look at how many people still use microsoft products then tell me who you want to work for. (if you are reading this K&L Gates HR, this is a joke).
If you are really tempted to look at books, a github page hosts a lot of them for free download here.
I'd have to start this guide by giving a shout out to Gary Cazalet and his wonderful course LAWS90033 Law Apps. This course really gave me a deep insight into how easily tech can be integrated into legal environments, and is a great starting point.
I'm also a huge fan of RMIT's short courses. These usually run after work hours so can be an easy addition after class.
There's also General Assembly, which some may be inclined to call the frontrunners in this pack. They offer number of courses in all manner of timeframes.
Our baby boomer overlords love to pretend like they care about giving us hope for the future almost as much as we love to pretend like we care about the suicide by cop of Cincinnati gorillas. They compensate for this by holding plenty of events where coding is the centrepiece.
Not only has the City of Melbourne made a lot of its large scale data free, the city is teeming with events all over that give you exposure to and connection in computer science. Look at this page here. Most of these events are free and all of them will give you tools to upskill yourself and your resume.
Here is where resources really kick into overdrive. The internet has boundless resources.
Free coding courses like CodeAcademy, Code.Org, Khan Academy, Udacity, and even Harvard's introductory classes are all ripe for the picking.
Use these resources and you'll be able to call yourself (however erroneously) self taught. If you ever run into trouble, just check through stack overflow or stack exchange. Someone's bound to have had the same issues as you.
The best advice I or anyone could give is to immerse yourself; hang out on forums, read code on Github, become familiar with the subculture. Like anything, you only get out what you put in, but with a little effort, you can gain a lot from computer coding. A former lawyer I know taught himself to code in his brief downtime at a mid tier. He now runs the Supreme Court's Case Management System, at half the hours of his old job at three times the call out rate.
Nick Parry-Jones is a second year JD student
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