I am a lawyer who became a iOS developer, Ask Me Anything!

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Hello! My name is Karen and I am lawyer/developer, currently working at Shopify. One of my friends encourage me to create this AMA, because she thought that maybe I can give a good advice to people that are changing careers or are thinking in doing that in the future.

More info?

As a dev, I am very interested in clean code, architecture patterns and improving the user experience.

As a lawyer, I am very interested in analyzing legislation with a gender perspective, employment law, human rights and constitutional law.


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Hey, Karen! That is amazing! You enjoy all my respect!

To be honest, I don't like hearing people saying a can't code because I'm not good at math. Probably you've already realized that is just not true. :)

I have a couple of questions :)

  • How long have you been developing iOS?
  • Did you start with Objective C or Swift?
  • If you had to recommend only one book, what would it be? (related to iOS and programming ofc. :))
  • Storyboard or not storyboard? :)

Thank you so much in advance!

Take care!


Thank you so much! Yes, I realized that not knowing too much math doesn’t make me a bad developer. But, to be honest, now I kind of enjoy learning math, when I am leaving my fears on a side. In fact, I am interested in planning my own curricula to learn the topics that you usually learn at school.

Now, the questions!

  1. I have been developing iOS for 5 years! I forgot to mention is that my first internship was in IOS development (I started when iOS 6 was the latest version). So that is the only area when I have worked since I started to develop.

  2. I started to program months before Swift was released so I learned objective c first. And I loved objective c. Keep in mind that, at that moment, I just did some exercises in Java so practically, objective c was my first programming language. Everything that was wrong in Objective C, for me, was normal so I wasn’t really affected because of that. When Swift was released, I was astonished and I cried when I got home: after some months of really challenging work, I had to learn a whole new thing. I was devastated because I didn’t know how much difficult could be to learn a new programming language. Then, I realized that when you have the ideas in mind, it is just to change them a little bit. My first code in swift was a little bit objective c-ish, then I figure out how to use the good things of the language. Now, because I am working in a really large codebase, I use objective c and swift. Now, because I am working in a really large codebase, I use objective c and swift.

  3. If I need to recommend a book to a developer, it would be Grit by Angela Duckworth. It is not related to development, but I think is really helpful to build the right mindset to learn. When you listen several times "he is a ninja developer", "oh, he is a unicorn", you think that talent is the only think that you need to be a developer, without thinking that hard work and perseverance are so important. But, to be accurate with the question, the technical book I would recommend is Working with legacy code by Michael Feathers. It is really useful when you have to work with large codebase and you don't know how would be the best process to follow.

  4. Not storyboard. I haven't used storyboard for almost three years now. For me, it is because of practical reasons: I am done dealing with merging conflicts in storyboard. :) And sometimes Xcode takes a lot of time to show you the storyboard. I usually create my UI programatically, but for some small UIViews that I would like to have clear, I can use Xibs.


Thank you so much for your answers!

I could not even imagine what it is like to be a person for whom Objective c is the normal and being afraid of Swift. :) And I think that's good because, as far as I know, Objective c is still on the plate as your example points it out. :)

Thanks for the books. I put them on my reading list. "Working with legacy code" was already there. :)

It seems like I can't skip the no-storyboard path. I've heard it from a lot of iOS dev that Storyboard just prevents them from being productive. Such a waste. I fell in love with it immediately because it was soo convenient for beginners like me to build interfaces.

And it is! The only thing is the merging conflicts that appear one in a while. If you like to use interface builder, try to use xibs or try to use several storyboards, and not just one :)

I'll definitely look after what this Xib thing is. Today I learned. 🙏👍


Do you sometimes say " I object.." at the standup?


Sometimes in the past, as a joke, but because I love Legally Blonde movie XD


Why? How do you get from lawyer to developer? Where did you get this idea?


Thanks for the questions!

When I was a teenager, I was really into personal blogs, but I didn’t want to use the templates that blogger offered at that time so I tried to build one of my own, by reading some tutorials and checking the source code of the webs that I really liked. But, I decided to go to law school because I didn’t have much support to go to engineering and I wasn’t good at math so, in my head, if you were not good at math, you wouldn’t be able to apply to engineering. And I love the law (not the practice, but in an academic kind of way).

But when I finished my law degree, I decided to try again, so I took some online courses and I even signed up for an intro to programming class. After a few weeks, I got lucky and one of my friends was looking for an intern in the place where he was working and I applied.

It has been almost 5 years from that day.


Do you think your law degree helps give you a certain unique perspective when programming that other developers may not have?


Thank you! This was the most difficult to answer!

No, I don't think so. I mean, not specific to a law degree, but I think having a different background can be helpful at the beginning, because you are not attached a ways of working/thinking from college and you can try everything without having prejudice about it.

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Karen Pinzás Morrongiello profile image
I am an iOS Developer and a really cool lawyer.