Lawyers Who Code: The Coding Student

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].

Ed GooldEd Goold is a 34-year-old lawyer who is undertaking a coding course at Makers Academy in London. He is a former Bristows, Nabarro and Allen & Overy solicitor and has also worked as a legal advisor to HM Treasury.

Why did you want to learn to code?

“I had had a long term standing interest in coding and a friend of mine switched me on to the prospect of doing it as a career so I did a few online courses at Codeacademy and it quickly become apparent that it might be a good fit for me.

“Then it was about reaching out to people who had made similar decisions and particularly those who had attended Makers Academy to hear what their experience of the course was like.

“But there were other pull factors too. In my legal career so far I have seen the inside of three different law firms with quite different cultures and also spent time on secondment and in government as well. Yet I never felt like I had really found a proper home.

“I felt that as a pure lawyer I had probably done my best and that now was the right time to think about whether you want to be doing straight law for the next 25-30 years.

“I am 34 and I am single without kids so in terms of making the decision to walk away from practising law and go into coding – that only has consequences for me. So I think I was a lot more footloose than a lot of my contemporaries might have been.”

What obstacles did you have to overcome to make the decision to learn to code?

“Something like this is always going to be a bit of a gamble. But I was never tremendously wedded to massive city pay. Most people who I have come across in my legal career are much more focused on pay than I was. So that wasn’t a big factor in my thinking.

The biggest factor was the leap in the dark. Knowing you are going to start in a position where you don’t know very much at all having got fairly far in a career where it’s all about expertise and building up post-qualification experience, so that was a massive call to make there.

“Another factor that played into my thinking was that my brother passed away last year so that was something that makes you re-asses everything and makes you much more prepared to make big calls, big changes I suppose. To be a bit more adventurous with one’s life.”

Where are you learning to code?

“I am enrolled on a full-time 12-week Makers Academy course in London, which I started in January.

“The idea behind Makers is to get you to a position where you can join a team as a developer and contribute almost immediately. In terms of qualifications, the course isn’t designed in that way, it’s very much more practical.

The course is designed to give you a wider education beyond just the technical languages in things like Agile software development values and Test-Driven-Development techniques which allow you to go on and work up to being a full-stack developer, if that’s what you want to do.

The course is quite app focused. We learn in Ruby (including Ruby-on-Rails) and Javascript and also get a good grounding in databases (PostgreSQL, Datamapper etc). So while overall there is more of a focus on front end than on back end, we get an excellent overview of the whole stack.

Towards the end we also have the opportunity to explore new technologies and languages on our own initiative – for example this week our team is using machine learning, Python and the details of Titanic passengers (age, ticket class, destination etc) to predict their survival outcome!


How difficult have you found the learning process?

“It’s really good, and very challenging. The hours are quite intense but coming from a city-legal background that’s not such a big deal as we are used to putting the hours in! What you’re not used to is constantly being reminded of the scale, breadth and depth of your ignorance. It’s back to square one in terms of the learning process.

“My classmates come from a variety of different backgrounds and are generally quite high achieving people and I think the big challenge for everyone has been getting used to being completely out of your comfort zone in terms of learning.

“On the flip-side it is really stimulating, fun and interesting.”

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