Programming is a skill all junior professionals can really benefit from as technology continues to become an integral part of professional services. I read about learning to code in a magazine and joined a course to learn more. I wanted to share what’s involved and why it’s been an asset in my professional portfolio.

Programming is the process of creating a set of instructions that tell a computer how to perform a task. There are lots of different languages with varying levels of functionality and complexity to enable this. I was part of a generation who learnt modern languages in secondary school but programming languages were not part of the mainstream curriculum. It’s not only a valuable skill but has also been a talking point in every interview I’ve had and a community that has connected me with individuals across all sectors.

There are different platforms for learning how to programme – you can do so independently or with a community. I was fortunate enough to be accepted on a community programme that helped me bridge that technical knowledge gap. Code First: Girls has been an invaluable community platform for me. The organisation runs coding courses for young women at university and for professionals looking to up-skill or switch careers. The social enterprise inspires women to pursue careers in tech, entrepreneurship and bridge industry lines with the skills from programming courses. I completed an introduction to web development using HTML & CSS as well as a more advanced course on Python programming. The classes take place once a week in the evening so that you can balance the course alongside your professional responsibilities manageable.

The community is supportive, collaborative and innovative. One of the major advantages of coding through a community is that is allows you to share your achievements and frustrations with a like-minded group led by an experienced instructor. You’re also connected to a community outside of your immediate professional sphere. I have met driven and interesting people who are interested and passionate about technology alongside their other interests. I have attended events with companies including Bank of America, PwC and IBM. I have been inspired by speakers who have shared their insights from software development, project management and founder roles.

Programming has helped me embrace technology across industry lines. It has given me the skills to work in a team to build and create websites. But the skills I have developed are not limited to programming. It has developed my problem solving capabilities, perseverance and presentation skills.

Picking up programming is an iterative process. It’s similar to legal drafting as both utilise logic and language to solve problems. They’re both intellectually stimulating and challenging at times. Lawyers have a skillset which translates well into programming. Lawyers have to think about contract structure, grammar and be detail-orientated. Programming employs the same skillset. The junior lawyers that innovative firms and in house teams are looking to recruit are curious about technology, capable of thinking creatively about complex problems and work collaboratively.

Technology creates opportunities as well as challenges for the legal sector. The ability to engage with technology opens up opportunities to drive innovation and efficiency to build better solutions for clients. Technology is a driver for change across all professional services. An understanding of programming opens up opportunities for collaboration with technologists and a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by clients. Technical skills create opportunities for lawyers who can bridge the technical gap to add value to client advice on utilising data, scaling up technology solutions and web accessibility issues.

Programming is a skill that helps you stand out in a competitive jobs market. If you are looking to up-skill, programming is a great tool to have in your professional portfolio.

Saoirse Stankard has completed a training contract with a full service independent law firm.