This is an archival version of Coding the Law's Fall 2020 course site. The current version can be found here.
Click the green flag to start. Game by Hiro-Protagonist (Colarusso). See original. This game was made in Scratch, an educational programing language. We introduce coding with Scratch below if you want to try your hand at making something similar.

Coding the Law
Suffolk Law School: Fall 2020
by @Colarusso

A self-guided LegalTech Adventure for folks with or without prior coding experience.

Readings (Part I)
~ 45 Minutes

Portland’s Precrime Experiment and the Limits of Algorithms
13-25 min. Protip: You can watch YouTube videos at more than 1X speed.

Optional Media. If you want to learn more about some of the topics discussed in the video above, and you have some free time, you might enjoy the following.

Acknowledgments: The video above was adapted from a piece I wrote for Lawyerist back in 2017 when they were structured as a law blog. Unfortunately, it is no longer available on their site. The faux minority report image is minority-report-omg-02 by youflavio is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0. The Precision-Recall graphic by Walber can be found here.

Readings (Part II)
~ 1.5 Hours

Knowledge Base

Everyone comes to this adventure with a different background. So this section is designed to be a menu of sorts. If you already know a topic well, you can skip the relevant material. Just answer the questions below, and section(s) will disappear accordingly. That being said, if a section doesn't disappear, you should do it. Any time you save skipping a topic, however, should be spent working on your final project or reading ahead in either Weapons of Math Destruction or How Not to Be Wrong. FYI, we will be reading all of Weapons of Math Destruction and all but parts III and V of How Not to Be Wrong.

All of that being said, let's see if we can pare things down.


Could you construct a confusion matrix from raw data?



Could you articulate a rational for using F1 Score instead of accuracy when evaluating a prediction/classification algorithm?



The Confusion Matrix et al.: Accuracy, Precision, Recall, and F1 Scores. Oh my!
Video: 5-10 Minutes. Protip: You can watch YouTube videos at more than 1X speed.

This wikipedia article is a good reference for all of you confusion matrix needs. It links to discussions of Accuracy, Precision, Recall, and F1 Scores.

Ready to Go?

Before we add to your mission, let's make sure we're on the same page, and don't worry. Your answers to these questions are only saved to this device. It's just a self-test to make sure you know what you need to succeed on your mission. This is by no means an exhaustive test of what you need to know, but if you find yourself missing something, take it as a suggestion to revisit the materials above. If you pared things down based on an answer to the Knowledge Base questions, consider changing the answer and reviewing the material.


You are assessing a set of algorithms that predict whether or not school will be canceled due to inclement weather. If you could only choose one metric to compare these algorithms which would be most useful?






Your Mission: A Simple Housing Issue Spotter (Part I)
Video: ~15-30 Minutes. Protip: You can watch YouTube videos at more than 1X speed.
Additional Work: 10 Minutes

Here is a link to Scratch. And if your interest was piqued when I mention reworking classic arcade games, you can check out some of my creations here. ;) FWIW, I'm suggesting you don't spend more than 10 minutes working on your bot's rules.

Your Mission: A Simple Housing Issue Spotter (Part II)
Video: ~18-36 Minutes. Protip: You can watch YouTube videos at more than 1X speed.
Additional Work: 10 Minutes

Here is the link to Machine Learning for Kids (we're all kids at heart ;). And here are the two files I mentioned:

Note: If you aren't an enrolled student, and you DM me, I'll provide you with login info for the ML4Kids exercises if I have any accounts available.

Your Final Project

Enrolled students will be presenting on their final project in four weeks. So if you haven't spoken with Colarusso about your final project idea(s), or lack there of, you should touch base ASAP! See The Final Project Rubric.

Self-Reflection and Logging Your Work
~20 min

As we do at the end of every level, we ask that you take a few minutes to reflect on how things are going. I've also included a set of reading questions to queue things up for our synchronous discussion. Your answers will be shared with me and it will let me know that I can look for any project work you may have posted. That being said, you've almost completed Level 4. Tell me how it's going by completing the form linked below.

Synchronous Meet Up, AKA our Class Time
1 hour and 30 minutes | September 21, 2020 @ 4pm Eastern

If you're an enrolled student, we'll be meeting at this link on Monday September 21st at 4pm via Zoom. If you don't have the password, and you are a registered student, DM me on Slack, and I can give you the password. If you're not an enrolled student, I'm afraid you can't join us.

We will use this time to: (1) evaluate our bots; and (2) discuss the readings.

Time estimates are just that—estimates. The assumptions used to calculate reading time are as follows: 48 pages is assumed to take roughly an hour to read. When working with non paginated texts, it is assumed that a page is roughly equal to 250 words. Videos assume both 2X and 1X viewing. Estimates for coding are based on past experience. Each level should include about 6 hours and 40 min of work.