Podcast #20: David Colarusso, Hacking for Justice


4-Step Computer Security Upgrade

Learn to encrypt your files, secure your computer when using public Wi-Fi, enable two-factor authentication, and use good passwords.

In today’s podcast, David Colarusso, a lawyer and data scientist for the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services,1 talks about what a legal hacker is, how he incorporates hacking into lawyering, and why lawyers should learn to code.

But first, Sam and Aaron try to figure out whether lawyers who bill after working 55 hours in a week are just padding their hours.

There’s No Point Working More than 55 Hours a Week

I was pretty blown away when I came across this:

[P]roductivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

Now, working hours and billable hours aren’t the same thing, but this study suggests that anything you bill after working 55 hours in a week has little or no value. Here’s the Stanford study (pdf) that shows it. So from now on, when your clock hits 55 hours, shut down your computer and go home to your family and friends. Oh, and make sure you shut off your email in the evenings so you don’t accidentally burn some of your productive hours.

I’m sure lawyers will wholeheartedly embrace this advice.

(h/t Quartz)

David Colarusso on Legal Hacking


When we first discussed legal hacking in episode 17, Sam got a little stumped when Aaron asked what it meant. So we brought in David Colarusso to talk about what legal hacking is, including examples from his own experience.

We already talked about one of Colarusso’s projects, QnA Markup. He also talks about hacking around simple challenges, like finding all the defendants affected by a chemist in the state’s drug labs who was falsifying her reports. Technology definitely isn’t the solution to every legal problem (or even most of them, probably), but Colarusso demonstrates that technology can absolutely solve some important legal problems.

If you’re interested in joining or starting a legal hacker group, visit LegalHackers.org. If you are interested in learning to code and you can spare about 10 hours over the next couple of weeks, visit Codecademy.

Thanks to Ruby Receptionists for sponsoring this episode.

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  1. Also a coder, craftsman, designer, educator, and writer, according to his website


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