Lawyers Who Code: The Self-Taught Coder

Legal Geek is compiling a ‘hack-book’ of lawyers and legaltechies who code. If you code, or are learning to code, we would love to include you in our ‘hack-book’. Drop us a line via [email protected] [yes it is .co].

Sergii ShcherbakSergii Shcherbak is a 28-year-old lawyer based in Sweden. Learning to code was never something he intended to do but fate intervened when he was trying to get his LegalTech start-up, Manydox, off the ground in 2016. Since building Manydox, Sergii has been hired as a lawyer-developer for fast-growing Swedish law firm Synch.

Why did you want to learn to code?

“I came up with an idea for a start-up that I wanted to build. The concept was an automated platform for legal documents, generating revenue from subscriptions, a sort of Spotify for contracts.

“I had this idea in Spring 2016, when I didn’t know how to code.

“So I knew I had to hire a coder and that the most straightforward way to do this was to secure an investor. But I couldn’t find a suitable investor. I soon realised that the only way to get my idea off the ground was to learn how to code and build the platform myself.”

How did you learn?

“Through books. Buying them online and using them to guide me. It was about 10% reading and 90% practice because it is all about understanding through trial and error and applying new knowledge to problems not described in the books. This also helped to acquire programmer ‘muscle memory.’

“I started learning in the summer of 2016 focusing on theory and from September onwards I focused on practice. By May 2017 I had built the beta version of my platform, Manydox. So overall it took me 8-9 months.

“Language-wise, I started with Python because it is a simple language to learn and it is very friendly to newcomers. After Python, I learned JavaScript, a more syntactically complex one.”

How difficult did you find the learning process?

“It was very hard. You encounter everything when you learn to code: it is a kind of emotional rollercoaster driving you from desperation to moments of bliss. You can be frustrated often because you can’t solve a problem.

“But these challenges are sprinkled with moments of discovery and realisation that I can build something on my own, and take an idea from an early concept to a working prototype independently.”

How has learning to code benefitted you?

“Certainly more opportunities are open to me now. I was hired by Synch, one of the most innovative and fast-growing law firms in the Nordics. Learning to code has made my career more interesting as I can switch from one to another (from law to coding). And I have an additional perspective on things. Learning to code also helps you understand that law is not binary, unlike code.

“Having to learn to code because of the situation I was in was also a great lesson that when you encounter a problem, it is always an opportunity to improve yourself.”

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