Giorgi Mikhelidze

I'm a beginner Software developer from Georgia with a big love for all things blockchain!

Will the Programmers of Tomorrow Resemble the Lawyers of Today?

Now the title may sound a little bit confusing. What does law have to do with programming? How can these two drastically different professions find anything in common in the future?
Well, in order to truly determine the correlation between careers in law and programming, we need to go back in time a bit. But we don’t need to go too far, the beginning of the 90s should do just fine.
Most of the examples I will supply here will be most relevant to developing nations, but some of it can be attributed to developed nations as well.
So, let’s now figure out what I mean with the title.
You see, in the 90s, there was this massive event that shaped the world as we know it right now. That event is called the dissolved of the Soviet Union. What it basically did was leave the United States as the sole superpower in the world. Other than that, it left a bunch of newly independent nations all over Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
And who does a newly formed independent nation need the most? People who know statecraft, international law, economics, business and etc. Needless to say, programming or anything related to technology was not much of a focus back then.

What did this lead to?

The moment centralized control became non-existent in these countries, a new demand for establishing said control quickly arose. Politicians were quick on their feet to employ experienced lawyers or just people familiar with the law in general. Why? Because the constitution needed to be drafted, a bunch of laws needed to be introduced. The newly formed companies that were created after the privatization of Soviet SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) were quickly requiring lawyers to somehow justify their business models. Crime rates were through the roof, which meant that lawyers, prosecutors, and judges were all the rage back then.
The same can be said about developed markets of the United States or the United Kingdom. The economic boom that happened during and after the cold war required a lot of people that could walk their way around state laws and help their clients survive jail-time. Overall, it was quite a profitable industry to be involved in back then.
And what does a profitable industry facilitate for young people? The desire to be part of it of course!
There were so many success stories of rich lawyers with great careers managing to enter the 1% of their country’s population that almost 5% of all students (that’s quite a lot compared to Business) were rushing to get a law degree.
Well, all of those law degree graduates are now employed in law firms and courthouses. What about the next generation? What are they supposed to do? Well, they’re supposed to work at odd jobs here and there before they can land that desired internship in a mediocre law firm in their town, and maybe, just maybe they can progress in the future and climb the career ladder.
So, what happened in the 21st century? Simple, supply outpaced demand and now we have unemployed law students struggling to find a job, but parents insist that a law degree is a shortcut to success. Well, not anymore, the competition is too high, and there are not enough job positions open.

How tech degrees are suffering the same fate

It is pretty obvious that nowadays if you’re enrolled in a technology major, be it Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or just engineering, in general, you’re very likely to get a job the moment you finish your studies.
In fact, a large number of tech degree students manage to score a job in their sophomore years and simply drop out of university because it’s not required.
Now imagine dropping out of university when you’re a law student. Would you ever manage to reach the heights this career offers? Nope, you need a degree for that, and a master’s at that.
However, let’s take a look at the landscape we are facing today in tech jobs. As long as you have some kind of experience in writing code, be this the basics of Java/Python or just a little bit of HTML/CSS/Javascript, it’s very likely that somebody will find you employable at least on a Junior Developer position.
Just having this small background and a little bit of portfolio is enough to get your feet wet in the industry, while sectors like law and politics sometimes require 8 years of study and a Ph.D.
Therefore, we can immediately tell that the tech sector is likely to get a surplus of workers much faster, considering that there’s no 8-year gap between being employable and replaceable.

Possible future

Let’s look at the current reality in retrospect. In 1991, there was a huge demand for people experienced in law, statecraft, diplomacy, and politics. Nowadays, only 0.001% of people in these fields have a very successful career, but in the past, that number was closer to 50% or so.
Looking at the tech sector of 2019, we can say that around 50% of people involved in it are relatively successful, or maybe an even larger percentage. This is because there’s so much demand for decent developers, not even amazing ones, but decent ones.
Considering that there will be a constant addition of new professionals to the industry as kids grow older and acquire this knowledge either on their own or through college, we can say that the deficit (which is a myth) will soon correct itself.

Interference of AI and libraries

As if pouring gas on a fire, we have a very quickly developing AI and tech libraries for these professionals.
Experts say that AI will soon manage to write its own code, and create even more AI, while libraries like J Query make the life of developers as easy as it can get.

Is it a topic to be worried about?

After reading this analysis for the future that I’ve made, it could sound like a bad idea to go for that tech degree or job you were anticipating so much.
That can’t be further from the case. Although it seems like history is repeating itself, there are still a lot of distinctions between law and programming. Why? Because you can’t make up laws for the sake of laws (unless you’re an authoritarian regime), while it’s completely possible to code for the sake of coding.
What do I mean by this? There will always be a demand for something innovative and comfortable in terms of a product in the future. Can one make a “product” by practicing law? No. Can one make a “product” by learning how to code? Definitely.
As you can see, the possibilities of programming far outpace the possibilities of fields such as law, politics and diplomacy. Although it may become slightly harder to get a job in the tech field, it will most likely encourage a lot more self-employment and development of something new.
So, my advice would be that, don’t go to that tech job for the sake of having a job. Don’t go to college for the sake of getting a job later. Go there to learn what are the best practices in the industry, and then implement those practices in your idea. Who knows, maybe you’ll hit the goldmine in a year or so? A goldmine that sometimes takes a lifetime for developers to achieve in a regular job.


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