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Winter 2023 Course

Computer Science for Lawyers (CS50 for Lawyers)

Prerequisites: None. This course is designed for students with and without prior programming experience.

Exam Type: No Exam

This course is a variant of Harvard College’s introduction to computer science, CS50, designed especially for law students. Whereas CS50 itself takes a bottom-up approach, emphasizing mastery of low-level concepts and implementation details thereof, this course takes a top-down approach, emphasizing mastery of high-level concepts and design decisions related thereto. Ultimately, it equips students with a deeper understanding of the legal implications of technological decisions made by clients.

Through a mix of technical instruction and discussion, this course empowers students to be informed contributors to technology-driven conversations. In addition, it prepares students to formulate technology-informed legal arguments and opinions. Along the way, it equips students with hands-on experience with Python and SQL, languages via which they can mine data for answers themselves, as well as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, languages with which web and, increasingly, mobile applications are built.

Topics include algorithms, artifical intelligence, cloud computing, databases, networking, privacy, programming, scalability, security, and more, with a particular emphasis on understanding how the work developers do and the technological solutions they employ can impact clients. Students emerge from this course with first-hand appreciation of how it all works and all the more confident in the factors that should guide their decision-making.