I often hear lawyers say that they would like to learn to code. I also hear lawyers who have learned to code urge others to follow suit. Some say learning to code can make you a better lawyer or even that it is an essential skill for lawyers in the 21st Century. It might even lead you to quit lawyering and code full time.

But once you decide to learn to code, there are any number of coding languages you could learn. Where should you start?

I put that question to the Twitterverse. Here are some of the answers I received. (The first comment is an image rather than an embedded tweet because Sam Harden has a locked Twitter account which prevents embedding of his tweets.)




  • Celant Innovations

    Python is a good choice, but you will hit a wall when you want to start building web apps (which everyone wants to do) because Django (Python’s web framework) isn’t as easy to learn b/c there’s not as much learning resources. HTML and PHP would probably have the lowest learning curve, if you get over the fact that it’s 2 (albeit really easy) languages (though some will say HTML isn’t a true language) and the first focus on the web is acceptable. Basic concept of HTML can be learned within a few days, and PHP is by far the most popular language in the web, because it is easy to learn. Ruby on Rails combines good general language (Ruby) with an excellent framework (Rails) and has a ton of learning resources. I learned Python –> RoR –> PHP but if I knew what I know, I might have started with PHP, but that requires a bit more knowledge in the command line interface. Ultimately, you need to know more than 1 language and environment to be effective. Learning PHP will require you to know linux. RoR will require knowing git. Along the way, you need to know CSS and get working understanding of JavaScript. But all of these learnings will be accretive. Simple advice is – go out there and learn, because if you stop at one language, you will not be that effective, but if you only have time for one as a hobby, learn Python.

  • Larry Port

    JavaScript fo sho.

  • If just learning now, the best longterm language is Golang (Go for short). No flame warms but Python is the past. Go is what I’ve been learning as a mid-40s lawyer. Way back in my academic years I learned BASIC, Pascal and Fortran and a bit of C++. The majority of our current tech stack at patdek is Go. If you already know Python (I don’t) Go is said to be an easy learn. PHP won’t go away anytime soon, but it has so many shortcomings. Python is widely used despite it’s shortcomings. Go, like any language, has shortcomings but I suspect most are thinking web app variants so Go is likely to be suitable.

  • Ken

    I am an attorney and I have developed web-based solutions for use on several of the US automakers litigation. Some types of web-applications include billing, discovery answering, warranty litigation management, warranty claims mgmt., asbestos litigation mgmt and so on.. I have also implemented machine learning for predicting outcomes and analyzing documents. I would recommend PHP and javascript for web based design – which you will need an understating of HTML as PHP works inline with HMTL. For machine learning and analysis, I would recommend Python. I am considering starting a learn to code online class for lawyers if there is interest.