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Neurodiversity in the legal profession
There is a great deal of variation among human brains and human minds, and this variation is called neurodiversity. Neurological differences are an essential form of human diversity, and recognising and supporting this diversity is important to the legal sector.
According to Ben Power, senior partner at Springhouse Solicitors, 'to ignore the neurodiverse means employers are potentially missing out on a valuable source of highly skilled talent'.
Some estimates suggest 10 per cent of the population are neurodivergent. Traditional recruitment and employment practices can pose a barrier for neurodivergent people. Despite this, a recent poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reveals that only one in ten HR professionals considers neurodiversity in their management practices.
At the Law Society, we want our members to be well equipped to support neurodiversity in the legal profession. The profession benefits greatly from neurodivergent minds. Neurodivergent individuals are often highly skilled in problem-solving, communications, strategy creation, trouble-shooting, improving processes, and lateral and creative thinking - all qualities essential to the legal profession.
To ensure that talent is not missed and to support neurodivergent solicitors, it is important that talent management is inclusive not only of neurotypical minds but inclusive of all.
Below are a few of the common traits associated with some of the main types of neurodiversity that can be of benefit to employers.
- Dyslexia - many people who have dyslexia have strong visual, creative and problem-solving skills.
- Dyspraxia - many people who have dyspraxia are innovative and have strong awareness of others.
- Autism - many people with autism have strong fine-detail processing abilities and have high levels of concentration.
- ADHD - many people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have creative abilities, are passionate and are novel thinkers.
All of the above conditions are classed as disabilities under the Equality Act 2010, however like many disabilities, it is not the impairment that disables neurodivergent people, but the barriers placed before them.
To help to eliminate these barriers and to support our members, the Law Society is pleased to be working with Exceptional Individuals, an employment partnership for dyslexic people, to host free workshops for our members and those aspiring to be solicitors who are neurodivergent.
Supporting solicitors, students and employers is one way to break the stigma. We also aim to offer guidance on the benefits of neurodiversity, the support available for employers and resources available for members.
The first of these workshops is on 17 July 2018 and has been designed for students and graduates (see the details below).
A workshop aimed at solicitors will take place in September 2018 and an employers’ workshop will be held in October 2018. Full details of these events are to follow.
The workshop will include:
- What is a 'spiky profile' - understanding neurodiversity
- Benefits of dyslexia
- Numbers and statistics - get the facts
- What is autism - getting to know the spectrum
- What is dyspraxia
- ADHD - the pros of an active mind
- Supporting different learning styles
- Top tips.
The workshop will be delivered by Exceptional Individuals.
Student workshop: 17 July 2018
Time: 11:00 to 12:30 followed by a networking lunch from 12:30 to 13:00
Location: Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
To request a place at the workshop, please contact Sarah Alonge, Disability and Wellbeing Policy Adviser, at LDD@lawsociety.org.uk. Spaces are limited to 20 people.