Calling All AD(H)D Lawyers/Law School Students

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    • #91468

      Dear Community,

      Like many people with ADHD, I have struggled to find direction in life. I wanted to be a firetruck (2 year old me didn’t know people couldn’t be things), then a professor, then an aid worker, then a farmer (?), then who knows (i.e. living in my parents basement, literally). I still want to be a writer one day. Now I work in international development, a career spawned from an earlier passion in the wider world which, despite all the good these organizations and projects do, has rung increasingly hallow in the halls of my potential passions.

      However, most of my life I have also flirted with the dream: being a lawyer. To start, I’m a very curious person, and I enjoy being able to understand and argue all sides of a debate. Most of my heroes have been lawyers, from Atticus Finch to Abraham Lincoln. I am especially interested in civil rights and ethics law, and am willing to put in the work to get to where I want to be. While I know law school will be a pain in the a$$, I feel it is my path to making a difference and can imagine being happy in the long run. Therefore, about a year ago, I began the process of considering it more carefully, and well…fast forward to now, I am in the final weeks before my second take at the LSAT.

      Not surprisingly, the LSAT does not come easily to me. It’s not that I don’t have the comprehension of the material, though. I enjoy the mental gynastics, but fret about the fall. During test time, my anxieties and my distractability often get in my way, causing a wide swing in my practice test scores (12 point spread!). Beyond that, I am get really down on myself since, like many people with ADHD, I struggle to do things right the first time, to see behind corners when I’m not paying attention, and to assert myself when appropriate for fear of messing up. I get really angry at myself, and that drags down my mood, and thus my scores. Then there are the selective problems with working memory (sometimes, when I really pay attention and use the tools at my disposal like organizational apps and mnemonic devices, etc., but I have trouble with things less interesting to me…you ADHDers all know the drill). However, I am committed to the path, not because I feel like I need to, or being forced to, but despite all the challenges in between, that I really do WANT to…even if I’m scared. With that said, I have a couple questions:

      1) For those with ADHD, any tips for crunch time with the LSAT?

      2) For those of you who are in law school or recently out of law school, what were the challenges you faced there in regards to your ADHD, and what did you do to mitigate and adapt?

      3) For the lawyers out there, how has being ADHD affected your career? Have you been able to compensate for the challenges of ADHD? Do you feel like you’ve been able to find success?

      Thank you!

    • #98188

      Hey there,

      First of all – congratulations on your decision to go after what you want despite the fear of failure or any self-doubt. Getting past the LSAT is tough, but law school is an extremely rewarding and useful experience regardless of what you choose to do with your training.

      The simple answer to your question from someone who has been in your shoes is you can do it, and it’s worth it. Just stay the course.

      I took the LSAT 3 times. I applied to law school 3 times – with 3 different personal statements. Third time was the charm in both regards. Funny part – that third LSAT score was only 6 points higher than my initial attempt! Don’t forget that the LSAT is important but it is only one factor in your admission decision.

      Variances among your scores are just a fact you have to deal with mentally.

      You’ll be where you need to be mentally when you know you’ve to a certainty that you’ve put in the time preparing. It sounds simple enough but it is absolutely paramount. Furthermore, it does not get any easier – test anxiety wise – after you crush the LSAT! Law school exams, the bar exam, and everything beyond will depend on your ability to prepare and to find a way – your way -to find calm amidst the storm.

      Personally, I had to experiment a bit for what worked, but I found that taking a prep course (Kaplan) combined with a 10 minute meditation/affirmation routine before each attempt. I also talked to my Doctor about test anxiety after the second try, and we added a beta blocker to my medication routine that literally changed the game on test day. Just some ideas to consider, and I am by no means a medical professional, but I’d definitely recommend looking into it. No matter what kind of “pregame” routine you employ – Stick with it until you find what works for you and remember the LSAT is NOT the only factor in your admissions decision.

      Law school was by no means easy for me, personally, but the same rules applied. Put in the work, and you’ll do fine. ADHD was a non factor in my case, and in many ways I still feel there are SO many things about a legal career that actually favor and cater towards those with ADHD. You’ll find on the other side of the process – there are a lot more of us thank you think =).

      I am excited for you as you start this journey, and I’ve felt exactly what you’re feeling right now. Please do not hesitate to send me a personal message if you need any advice or someone to listen. I’d love to help.

      Bottom line: you absolutely can do this, and it’s so, so worth it.

      Best Wishes

      John M.
      corporate litigation associate
      Licensed to practice in Texas (2014)

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