Before now, coding was a skill used almost solely by programmers and persons with a degree in computer science. But given the intersection of law and technology, this is no longer the case. The rapid growth of technology has introduced a new range of legal issues and problems which demands lawyers to acquire relevant skills and competencies. The dual set of law and technology skills are becoming increasingly valuable in a digital-driven environment. Embracing innovation is a critical skill to remaining relevant in one’s field of knowledge. It is important to note that when lawyers decide to learn to code, it does not mean that they should become full-blown programmers, but they should at least be coding literates and have an understanding of how it works. Now the question begs, of whether it is necessary for lawyers to learn to code.
Given the buzz of LegalTech, lawyers with coding skills would have a competitive edge over their counterparts. They are better equipped to serve as project managers for legal software and provide tailored advisory to digital businesses. As Law firms are
becoming more client-centric, understanding their ‘digital clients’ is vital.
Lawyers are researchers. They research past cases, laws, statutes, exemptions etc. The best lawyers are those who know how to make proper research, they dig around and find answers to back up their claim. As a lawyer with the ability to code, you become better at research as coding is basically knowing what to ask, how to ask it and where to find the answers
But even as lawyers with no interest in learning to code it is believed that the more lawyers can engage with technology, the better for them and the better for their clients. This means, whether you can code or not, there are definitely advantages to being able to engage with technology and to speak on a somewhat technical plane. As future focused lawyers, an understanding of terms such as Blockchain, AI, Cybersecurity, Internet of Things etc, would drastically increase your value to potential clients/employers. Also, tech-savvy lawyers are in great demand. You’d be hard-pressed to find a company today which doesn’t have technology at its core. Finally, tech savvy lawyers provide value by connecting both lawyers and developers. They can speak law to lawyers and speak tech to developers, which enables them identify and solve a need.
An understanding of these technologies and its concepts can help lawyers understand why certain policies and procedures exist e.g, cloud policies, data privacy and sharing, AI ethics etc. Coding can be beneficial to lawyers in multiple ways.
Lawyers must continue to develop themselves, and ideally immerse themselves in acquiring requisite skills if they want to remain relevant in their field.