My Journey from a Lawyer to a Coder!

Priyanka Prasad
7 min readJan 8, 2022

-Priyanka Prasad

Yes, you saw that right! I am a lawyer and I recently started learning to code! So what does a lawyer have to do with coding and why?

A lawyer in general may not have to do much with coding. But, a lawyer with a decent knowledge of the programming ecosystem who caters to clients in the software and digital domain, always brings an edge on the table. Imagine a lawyer who understands git, routing, hosting, rendering.

So does it mean, a lawyer should learn to code? No, not necessarily. Coding or learning any programming language in itself is very exhaustive. Unless you are looking for a career change or are interested in learning to develop software or an application a lawyer may not need to. Basic knowledge usually works.

So why am I learning then? Well, I took up this because I love learning new things. Also, having completed my high school in computer science back in the day, but quitting thereafter to pursue law, I always wanted to come back someday to learn and continue coding.

Also growing up in the era of the digital revolution, the fear of missing out keeps haunting me. While innovations and ideas keep me up at night, having no way to bring them to life, is what troubles me the most.

And, so as the adage goes, while there is no age for learning….

I tread on this new path with vigour and delight , to give my visions a new flight.

As, someone who is extremely new to the coding environment, it was quite a task to first understand which language should I learn. It’s obvious!. If you had to learn a new language out of all the languages in the world, it would be a difficult choice! You will probably first identify your motive and then choose a language to learn. Like, if you are looking for a job in Germany, you will learn the German language. You will not learn Mandarin or French for getting a job in Germany. However, if you only knew English, you might still get a job in Germany but you might not flourish, you would just be able to survive.

The same logic applies to learning any new programming language. When I began, I was confused as to what programming languages should I learn. So, I had to first discover my goal which then enabled me to list down the programming languages I should learn.

I have always been intrigued by the working of an app, server, and its roundabout technology so as to understand and serve my clients better. In the process, I have also faced a lot of technical hurdles which if solved could make my life and work a lot easier. So eventually, my goal has been to create apps for myself that would help me and serve my clients better.

As a beginner, I am not going to shy away from sharing the naivety of what I brought to the programming world.

I thought well, I want to build apps and so I googled, what is the best programming language to learn to build mobile apps. After sieving through a few articles, I understood Kotlin was one of the most preferred languages and instantly I started looking for beginner courses on Kotlin. I bought a course on Udemy, completed it somehow but then didn’t know what to do next.

Well, you see, if you are new to cooking and if you do not know about the ingredients and what flavor they add to your dish, you might be able to prepare a dish following a given recipe but you won’t be able to create a new one. This is what happened to me when I picked up a new language like Kotlin. I didn’t have any knowledge of the basics of programming and therefore I was lost. I wasn’t able to create anything.

So the entire process had to be relaunched. Finding a new language aligned with my goals but also gave me a pass to the programming world. After days of brainstorming, it eventually boiled down to learning HTML/ CSS first, then basics of Javascript, and then eventually upgrading to learn either Angular/React.

I had decided to learn the basics- HTML/CSS and then eventually to upgrade to learn JavaScript and React library.

Why did I choose all these above languages and libraries?

HTML/CSS is a basic scripting language that is used to construct any web page which you see whenever you open a website. HTML builds the content of the page while CSS helps to style the content which gives a better user experience.

However, a website just doesn’t work on content and styling alone, especially if it needs user inputs, data collection, and processing. To do all the ancillary and interactive work on a website, Javascript is one of the programming languages which is used to make a webpage more interactive rather than just sitting there and showing some static information.

React is a javascript library that was built by Facebook where you can build these user interfaces by dividing them into multiple components each having its own separate property and function thereby making complex applications easy to code and debug.

Once I decided upon the programming languages I wanted to learn, I immediately sieved through some online learning materials for HTML/CSS and JavaScript. Out of the whole lot available online, the best source of learning I could find was through Udemy. It was cheap, had a wide variety of instructors who provided on-demand tutorials which could be watched at one’s own time and pace.

There is a lot of information available on the web. For a beginner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused with all the blogs and reading materials available. The best option that I found after weeks of research was to understand the basics through a video tutorial and then to refer to such blogs and reading materials for clarification of doubts. Did you know? even experienced programmers still google their basics.

Learning HTML/CSS wasn’t that difficult as I was already aware of certain concepts that I had learned back in the day in my computer science classes. Since it is only a scripting and styling language, there are some basic rules which you have to know and that’s that.

The entire process of learning HTML/CSS was quite fun as I could now make things pop and change on my computer screen instead of just being a slave to the computer screen.

Until now, everything seemed magical. I always seemed to wonder where did the information on the website come from. How does the color on the buttons change? Now things started to make sense.

There was still something missing. I was able to design and publish static pages but I was unable to interact with my website. This required me to learn a programming language where I could interact with the system to make real-time changes reflected on the website. This led me to learn the language called Python which is a very old and popular back-end programming language. In addition to it, I had to understand databases and learn database management programs like MongoDB where I could query, store and retrieve data to show it on the website.

Learning and implementing python is relatively easy than JS. Retrospectively, I feel, one should start with learning Python and then move to learn JS. This all took me almost a year. All the while I was learning, I would feel overwhelmed quite a many times. I would take regular breaks and work on live projects to understand concepts much better.

In order to finally implement my learnings, my husband and I brainstormed and started working on a project Mezchip, which is an omnichannel customer support platform for e-commerce stores and D2C brands. We are to launch on our partner platforms soon and I cannot wait to see my visions turn to reality!

If you happen to be a product professional or an owner of a D2C brand/ e-commerce store or just someone who would like to try the product and give some feedback, it would be amazing! All you have to do is visit the website and book a demo!

Until then, keep learning, keep exploring and keep growing!

--

--

Priyanka Prasad

A Jill of many Trades| Writes about tech, law, business & lifestyle