The introduction of coding and other digital technology skills as part of law courses at Flinders University has proved a hit, with apps developed by students catching the eye of state legal bodies.
The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) is currently liaising with the university to commission an app developed by students for tenants who receive an eviction or ‘vacant possession’ order.
“This ‘SACAT Homelessness Advisor’ app assists tenants to quickly find emergency accommodation suited to their particular circumstances,” Mark Ferraretto, coordinator of Flinders University’s new ‘Coding the law’ short course, said.
“SACAT can now provide quick and tailored advice to tenants who are facing the daunting prospect of homelessness – cutting through bureaucracy and giving tenants an easy way to access the information they need in a difficult time.”
Flinders first introduced digital skills into its law courses as part of a pilot program in 2019 to increase graduate’s technological literacy amid a growing digital economy.
After the pilot was completed, the university decided to embed tech training in all of its legal programs and launched a suite of new courses.
Ferraretto said that it’s been possible for student’s to acquire adequate coding skills for developing useful applications in the relatively short time frame of a single 12-week semester.
“We have students across all age ranges, with the only commonality their complete lack of coding skills and knowledge.
“Nonetheless, all have successfully developed practical applications.”
Ferrareto, an admitted solicitor who practised in an Adelaide commercial law firm before joining the university, said that such skills would have been a significant help during his time practising law.
“There is a greater synergy between technology and the law than most people think.
“Both disciplines are highly technical, and both contain a mix of the creative and the mechanical.
“I cannot count the number of times my software development tools would have been a huge help creating commercial agreements while I was in practice.”
“Learning basic coding skills not only enables lawyers to create apps to improve business practice or access to justice but also ensures they understand the opportunities presented by technology to increase efficiencies, in the context of their firm’s speciality areas and unique client needs.”