Our most frequently asked questions are: What coding language should I learn? Where can I learn how to code? How do I learn coding? Here we will see out our advice and answers to these questions. But first, let’s start with why. It’s our least asked, but most important, question. In this four-part article series, we will provide essential coding for beginners know-how to kickstart your coding journey, whether you are a lawyer or anyone else!
Why do you want to learn to code?
As Simon Sinek‘s bestseller and massively popular TedTalk, “Start With Why” posits, too often when individuals or organisations make a decision we focus on the how and the what before considering our why.
Sinek argues we should flip this order, starting with our why:
So what’s your “why” for learning to code?
Chances are you might not have thought this through, and even if you have, you might not have done so in much detail.
In particular, consider:
- What are you trying to achieve by learning to code?
- How (if at all) will learning to code benefit you?
- Will learning to code benefit your current career or role?
- Are you looking to change jobs and move out of your current career or role?
- Are you looking to demonstrate tech credentials for a job at a legaltech provider?
- Do you wish to start / join a start-up? If so, do you want to code your minimum viable product or talk intelligibly to developers to ensure you don’t get ripped off or have stuff lost in translation?
- Do you simply want a new hobby?
- Do you simply want to sound clever?
- Are you learning to code because everyone else is doing / suggesting it? (i.e. FOMO)
- Do you have time to learn to code?
If you can think this through, you’re doing better than most. Pausing for thought here will help you assess whether coding is something you really want or need to learn vs something you could learn. That’s a critical difference!
If you don’t understand why you are doing something there’s a good chance you will lose motivation, and ultimately fail.
Understanding you why helps avoid this trap and build for success at identifying the how (you will learn coding) and what (coding and related skills you will learn).
Why learn to code?
We’ll keep it snappy – here are 4 reasons (but there’s countless more):
01. Coders are in high demand
According to Code.org, 71% of all new STEM jobs are in computing, yet only 8% of STEM graduates are in Computer Science. That’s a big supply and demand problem. Learning to code will increase your chance of securing a lucrative STEM career, or if you are coming to coding from another discipline, will increase your chances of a segue into a role at a STEM driven business. It’s worth noting that those with CS degrees now earn 40% more than the average graduate.
02. Competitive edge
Coding skills are still a minority skillset. Having this skillset can help set you apart from your peers, whether you work in the law or otherwise. As organisations increasingly focus on improving processes via technology, there is a growing opportunity to enter emergent roles at the crossroads of business and technology domains. Individuals who have domain knowledge and technology skills are ideally placed to take advantage of these new and exciting career paths. In law, there are a growing number of lawyer coders and legal engineers, able to translate between the legal and tech domains to facilitate innovation and business transformation projects by pulling together lawyers and technologists.
03. You’ll understand systems and the world around you better than before
Despite the increasing use of computers and smartphones, most of us haven’t a clue about what makes our smartphones, laptops, social media and video games run. Basic programming knowledge can change the way we interact with the technologies we use (and take for granted) daily. It can also help you to think about your own challenges at work or at home and how you might use technology to solve these problems.
04. Coding improves your problem-solving skills
Coding is all about problem-solving. Computers are fundamentally dumb. They understand 0s and 1s (i.e. that a switch is either on or it’s off) and that’s it. Everything else you see and interact with via a computing device, whether a laptop, games console, tablet or smartphone is 0s and 1s, albeit increasingly complex combinations thereof.
“The computer makes no decisions; it only carries out orders. It’s a total moron, and therein lies its strength. It forces us to think, to set the criteria. The stupider the tool, the brighter the master has to be – and this is the dumbest tool we’ve ever had.”Peter Drucker
As the Drucker quote above highlights, computer’s dumbness forces you to be smart. You need to think at the level of a moron. Learning this skill is a core part of coding and will help you understand and breakdown even the most complex problem into it’s smallest parts (dividing and conquering).
05. Coding is creative
Contrary to popular belief, coding is also highly creative. If you know how to code you can hack together apps, video games, websites, and even ideas for new start-ups. It’s hugely rewarding to see a few lines of code grow into a codebase and then into an app to show your friends, family and – if you’re brave enough and empowered – your colleagues
Postscript: should lawyers learn to code?
As this is a legaltech focussed site, we’d be remiss not to touch on this question. But to keep things brief, we’ve answered that question in detail here. In fact, it’s our second most popular article!
Please see here for Part 2 of this 4 part coding for beginners series