Should lawyers learn to code? Artificial Lawyer has always believed the answer to that is largely: no. But, now, a new survey, that covers the legal tech sector in Australia, has found that just under half of all legal tech founders cannot code either, yet this doesn’t seem to matter.
The data, which is from the Australian part of the Global Legal Tech Report project, underlines that when it comes to creating a new company, even one that is selling software, you don’t have to be a computer programmer to succeed – although, naturally, you’re going to need to partner with and employ plenty of them.
As seen below, 46% of the founders of the surveyed companies had no programming skills. Although, some may of course have partnered with a co-founder who was a coder.
In fact, some of the most successful legal tech startups are often a combination of a person who is a legal sector expert with great business instincts, plus a person with strong coding skills. Although, it’s worth adding even the person with the knowledge of the legal sector doesn’t have to be a lawyer, though if they are wading into the work lawyers do they clearly need to really understand it in detail.
Interestingly, the report also discovered that many founders in Australia are sole founders, rather than pairs or larger groups of company creators.
Either way, the data underlines the point that to lead you don’t have to be able to do the thing that sector is based upon. For example, you do not need to be a qualified pilot to be the CEO of an airline, or a surgeon to manage a group of hospitals. Maybe that would be a bonus, but clearly it’s not essential.
Managing, leading, taking a product to market, and driving change in an organisation is not the same as personally making the things that the organisation produces.
One classic example is the Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak combination at Apple. Now, Jobs could code, if he had to, but that was not where his genius was. Jobs could visualise a product before many people had even thought they wanted one, and then bring together a team and orchestrate its creation to a very high level, even when the people making that product didn’t believe it was possible. But, he did it.
And, as Apple grew Jobs really became what he was best at: being the conductor of the orchestra of talents that he had assembled.
For Artificial Lawyer, that is the key takeaway. And the same applies to law firm leaders and GCs. They don’t need to be experts in legal tech, but they do need to develop a vision of what their business looks like when it truly leverages what is possible with the software that is available today.
And, the final point is that there are no doubt many people out there who would like to start a legal tech company, but fear they cannot because they don’t code. They should be heartened by this data.
While many people are at home during the lockdown, some perhaps even on a furlough, perhaps now is the time to set to work on building the foundations of that startup you always had in mind…?
One day this virus will be history, and now seems like as good a time as any to step back from one’s daily life and think big about what you may want to do next.
You can find the Australia and other reports here.