Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Getting out of law through coding. Which language?

I am interested in doing it this year, but I am not sure whi ericcrapton12/31/17
Spanish isthisit12/31/17
Can’t go wrong with Python or JS. Python is probably best itdude12/31/17
How hard is python to learn? What do people program with it? notreallyalawyer12/31/17
Computers. notiers01/01/18
haha wutwutwut01/02/18
Python is often used in the sciences, particularly by data s ericcrapton01/01/18
If you spend anytime on the free udemy course blogs, you can thirdtierlaw01/02/18
I actually went down this path after graduating law school i drwayoflife01/01/18
Say you were offered a solid mid/big law position - would yo junkwired01/02/18
To be honest I haven't really thought about it. After a year drwayoflife01/02/18
Reading that made me decide not to try this. Sounds harder t notreallyalawyer01/02/18
Sounds like you want a satisfying, high paying career to fal junkwired01/02/18
You really think someone with anxiety can write a computer p notreallyalawyer01/02/18
Well, you could stay in doc review until it requires giving phillydoucherocket01/02/18
Go to conference room at public library. Give presentation a midlaw01/03/18
That doesn’t simulate the anxiety and panic attack I’d b notreallyalawyer01/03/18
I don't think there's any field other than medicine where an onehell01/02/18
How could anyone go wrong with javascript? It's the languag jeffm01/05/18
Did you try any coding boot camps? turde01/05/18
Be a CPA instead. Law degree is still somewhat relevant and batman01/06/18

ericcrapton (Dec 31, 2017 - 5:14 pm)

I am interested in doing it this year, but I am not sure which language to choose. JavaScript and Python have been recommended to me, but I am not sure which is more popular. I definitely don’t need another useless skill. Any recommendations?

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isthisit (Dec 31, 2017 - 5:37 pm)

Spanish

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itdude (Dec 31, 2017 - 7:34 pm)

Can’t go wrong with Python or JS. Python is probably best for you because it’s the simplest language to learn *and* widely used in both web (Django mainly) and data science.

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notreallyalawyer (Dec 31, 2017 - 7:45 pm)

How hard is python to learn? What do people program with it?

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notiers (Jan 1, 2018 - 10:10 am)

Computers.

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wutwutwut (Jan 2, 2018 - 3:05 pm)

haha

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ericcrapton (Jan 1, 2018 - 10:13 am)

Python is often used in the sciences, particularly by data scientists, but it is very versatile and the syntax is more readable and intuitive than other languages. Schools often use that language to teach programming for that reason. You can try it at Code Academy if you are interested.

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thirdtierlaw (Jan 2, 2018 - 8:46 pm)

If you spend anytime on the free udemy course blogs, you can find classes ranging from super intro up to pretty advanced stuff, all for free.

Though I'll warn you it can lead to choice paralysis, I'm currently "enrolled" in 72 udemy classes, haven't done any of them. But I signed up for all of them when they were offered for free.

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drwayoflife (Jan 1, 2018 - 12:05 pm)

I actually went down this path after graduating law school in 2014. I graduated (barely) in the top half of my class from a school ranked in the mid-30s and couldn't get a law job. I was trying to get a solo practice off the ground while working doc review. I didn't have the capital or connections to make solo work out of the gate, so I got more or less stuck on the doc review treadmill. Half a year of that hell and I knew that I had to try something, anything, to get out. I was in North Carolina, so in the summer of 2015 I enrolled in NC State's online computer programming certificate program. This is designed for part time students to get coding skills while working full time. My thought at the time was, "Well, if I still can't find a job by the time I get this certificate, I'll just transfer in to NC State as a full time computer science student because I know I'll never get the law job I want doing what I'm doing now." Luckily, I didn't even need to complete the NC State's certificate. In the summer of 2016, I got a Java certification from Oracle (a software development company), and that was enough to get me interviews at some software development companies and I was hired in late 2016.

While the fundamentals are the same no matter what language you learn on, the most commonly used languages in the field today are JavaScript and Java. If you are looking to hedge your bets, I would choose one of those two to learn with. JavaScript is used largely in web-based applications and Java is used in a lot of enterprise applications. JavaScript is newer and used in more "cutting edge" applications, so I would recommend learning on JavaScript even if it's a little steeper learning curve.

To get a developer job you will need two things:

1) Some credential or repository of work to get you in to the interview room. For me, it was a certificate from Oracle. But it could be a degree or just a lot of personal projects that you can show.
2) Once you are in the interviewer's room, you will need Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. Every developer I know has read this book and used it to practice for interviews. In the software world, there's an extremely common practice of "white-boarding" code. The interview will give you some kind of technical problem, and you will work out a solution by writing out code on a white board. It's arcane and not necessarily representative of your skill, but it's so common that you have to be prepared for it.

I would also throw up a word of caution - getting a developer job is not as easy as it was even 5 years ago. In many ways, I was lucky to get the job I have now because I just happened to apply at the perfect time when the company was expanding like crazy and would take just about anyone with a pulse. However, the industry has been broadcasting the need for developers for awhile now and there are a lot more computer science graduates as a result. Many of the low-level coding jobs that were filled by coding bootcamp graduates and the like are now gone. Coding bootcamps are closing left and right as the industry now expects higher level skills at entry level. My feeling is that the STEM meme is producing a wave of computer science majors that will flood the market and make entry level positions very competitive. That being said, there is still a lot of opportunity in this space as it is still growing (unlike the the legal market, which seems to be contracting).

TLDR - Go with JavaScript

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junkwired (Jan 2, 2018 - 10:48 am)

Say you were offered a solid mid/big law position - would you keep your developer job or switch back to the law?

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drwayoflife (Jan 2, 2018 - 4:24 pm)

To be honest I haven't really thought about it. After a year of trying and failing to land even a small law job, I kind of mentally blocked that possibility. I came to realize that I'm more suited to an IT job because I find it draining to deal with clients. Machines are easy to deal with, people are hard. Looking back I should have gone to school to be an engineer of some kind. I was one of those kids that graduated with a liberal arts degree, panicked, then enrolled in law school not really understanding what it meant to be a lawyer. I've found that wanting to be the kind of person who will thrive as an attorney and actually being that kind of person are two different things. That being said, I might take a mid/big law position, but it would be against my better judgement!

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 2, 2018 - 11:47 am)

Reading that made me decide not to try this. Sounds harder than even law, not including even how to learn to program

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junkwired (Jan 2, 2018 - 12:13 pm)

Sounds like you want a satisfying, high paying career to fall into your lap. Not gonna happen.

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 2, 2018 - 12:15 pm)

You really think someone with anxiety can write a computer program on a white board during a job interview? Why not have me do it naked to make it even more of a nightmare scenario?

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phillydoucherocket (Jan 2, 2018 - 1:03 pm)

Well, you could stay in doc review until it requires giving oral presentations on how you coded a document that mentioned Jude Law and whether or not it was privileged.

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midlaw (Jan 3, 2018 - 11:21 am)

Go to conference room at public library. Give presentation and write code on whiteboard to empty room. Repeat until good at it.

This is how it’s done.

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notreallyalawyer (Jan 3, 2018 - 11:30 am)

That doesn’t simulate the anxiety and panic attack I’d be having. Next time you guys insult me thank God you don’t have anxiety disorders. You don’t know how blessed you are

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onehell (Jan 2, 2018 - 6:43 pm)

I don't think there's any field other than medicine where anyone can, by credential alone, place themselves in a position where demand exceeds supply at the entry level in geographical locations where educated people actually want to live.

With the exception of the medical field, getting that first job will always be a challenge. But once you get that first job and get some experience, the outlook is a lot brighter than it is for lawyers.

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jeffm (Jan 5, 2018 - 9:08 pm)

How could anyone go wrong with javascript? It's the language of all browsers. Without it, you browse nothing of any interest.

If you have some decent logic skills and aren't afraid to jump in, just go through the introductory course for free at w3schools.com. They have good introductory courses over there. https://www.w3schools.com/js/default.asp

Here's something more to note if you are not familiar with all web apps. Browsers render HTML, so it's pointless to think you don't need to know it. Javascript helps you to manipulate HTML to do some cool things. The on-line course will show you that. Finally, CSS pertains to applying "styles" to your HTML. For example, whether the title of the page should be big or small, bold or italicized, etc.

You need to know CSS to make your HTML pretty. You need to know javascript to link your logic to the user interface. In HTML, the user enters his name. You process his answer with javascript.

This is all client-side stuff, meaning how everything is handled within the end-user's browser of choice. Then, there is the server side.

The end-user is the client. You are the server. The client makes a request, such as searching for items in your inventory. When you receive the request, your server-side code processes it and returns the data, an error, or whatever you want to send back to the client.

There is a large variety of server-side languages. Many are popular. One I have learned recently is node.js. The nice part about it, in particular, is that it is also javascript. So, if you are comfy with javascript on the client-side, you'll adapt easily on the server side.

The only main thing left is to understand how to set up and use a database. That way, you have a completed round-trip from the end-user to your database and back.

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turde (Jan 5, 2018 - 11:49 pm)

Did you try any coding boot camps?

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batman (Jan 6, 2018 - 8:40 pm)

Be a CPA instead. Law degree is still somewhat relevant and lots of people are going to need help with their taxes in upcoming years.

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