Should a Lawyer be a Coder?

Hughes-Castell, newsletter, Should a Lawyer be a Coder

“Everybody should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think,” said Steve Jobs in 1995[1]. At that moment, programming seemed a foreign language for many industries, including the legal profession. However, after almost three decades, coding  is now accorded as a compulsory subject every school child must learn[2]. Should this also accompany legal studies? When we discuss whether lawyers should learn to code, we have to ask if coding is important in law or will benefit lawyers personally.


Is coding important in law?

In an increasingly data and tech-driven legal industry, lawyers could consider becoming coding literate in order to be able to use legal technology to a fuller extent.[3] A better understanding of data security risks, leads to better data security practices which can only benefit clients. For example, a tech-savvy lawyer could create their own AI prompt to receive appropriate responses from using ChatGPT.

Programming expertise certainly gives lawyers a competitive advantage when it comes to advising digital and fintech businesses. Understanding how the code functions and how the development process is structured enables a better understanding of how processes are run within software businesses and how their solutions work.[4]

Everyone is worried about AI replacing some lawyer functions soon. In 2017 JP Morgan began using software called “COIN” (Contract Intelligence) to review commercial loan agreements in order to save on legal spending. By being able to grasp what the impact of AI actually is, you can reap the benefits rather than fall behind the curve.

The legal tech sector is booming. The Covid-19 pandemic was a key factor in accelerating legal tech development as lawyers had to adapt to the changing communication and interaction environment, and clients’ evolving needs and expectations. There became a greater need for legal tech solutions as professionals moved to virtual meetings, e-voting management, and online document collaboration.


Why lawyers can be good programmers?

Many lawyers may not be aware that they are more suited to programming than they realize. In reality the core skills of being a good lawyer are actually quite similar to those of a programmer. Lawyers and coders are problem-solvers, processing information and using data to make predictions and informed decisions. Basically, lawyers use variances of math, science, and logical thinking skills in their practice – they just might not realize that they are using the same skills as coders. [5]


A Lawyer’s Guide to Learning to Code

What’s the first step? If you want computer programming skills tailored to the legal field, seek legal-specific courses. Lawyers may find the following programming or computer science skills particularly useful:

    • Python: to help with data analysis with huge legal datasets including legislation, caselaw, regulations, and contracts.
    • Conversational AI: such as ChatGPT and Bard to create instructions to AI.
    • SQL: to help with database management.
    • Cyber Security: to help with data and network protection as well as GDPR.
    • Cloud computing: such as Power Platform and AWS to learn how it can be applied to your practice or to automate your work processes.



[1] Stephen Gruppetta, ‘Steve Jobs 1995: “Everybody should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think,”’, Codetoday, 5 July 2022, (accessed 15 June 2023)

[2] Boboskey, ‘7 Countries that Have Adopted Coding as Subject in Primary, Secondary Education Curricula,’, Boboskey Technologies, 5 October 2022, (accessed 15 June 2023)

[3] Sharon Miki, ‘Programming for Lawyers: Why Lawyers Make Good Programmers’,, Clio, 18 April 2023, (accessed 15 June 2023)

[4] Contractbook, ‘Do lawyers need to learn to code?’, Contractbook, 24 February 2020, (accessed 15 June 2023)

[5] Sharon Miki, ‘Programming for Lawyers: Why Lawyers Make Good Programmers’,, Clio, 18 April 2023, (accessed 15 June 2023)


Featured image by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

Published by Hughes Castell

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