More than three-quarters of neurodivergent lawyers have not disclosed their condition to employers to avoid discrimination, a survey has found.

The poll of law students and people working in the profession also found widespread belief that the legal sector was not inclusive for people with a neurotype.

The results suggest that reasonable adjustments are still not being made across legal training and in firms, and that neurodiverse individuals are still reluctant to be open about challenges they face in the workplace.

Neurodiversikey, the organisation which ran the survey, said the responses show that neurodivergent people are being ‘let down at every opportunity’ and that further investigation into improving inclusion is required.

‘The results overall portray a sorry situation in need of immediate, meaningful action,’ said the group. ‘Neurodivergent people should be able to be their authentic selves in legal education, training and practice, and access what they are entitled to without fear of the repercussions.’

The poll received 257 valid responses, from 74 law students and 183 legal professionals. The most common neurotypes identified were ADHD, autistic, dyslexic and  dyspraxic.

Almost half (47%) of respondents said they had experienced discrimination in relation to their neurotype in legal education and training, increasing to 64% for dyslexic legal professionals.

Around 40% had been refused or not provided reasonable adjustments during their legal education and training. A similar proportion of legal professionals said they had been denied reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

More than half (51%) of respondents had experienced discrimination in the legal sector and 76% had not disclosed their neurotype to avoid discrimination. The percentage of people staying quiet about their condition was higher still among lawyers with ADHD.

Just 2% of the total respondents completely agreed that legal education and training was neuroinclusive compared to 66% who mostly or completely disagreed. Not a single current law student agreed that education and training was neuroinclusive. Almost three-quarters (74%) felt that the legal sector in general was not neuroinclusive.

Neurodiversikey said the results showed that neurodivergent individuals were at a substantial disadvantage at the legal education and training stage, with the potential to then impact their careers.

‘It appears that entering legal practice is not a protective factor but actually associated with increased risk of being refused or otherwise not provided reasonable adjustments in respect of neurotype(s).’

The group will commission further research on neurodivergence prevalence in the legal sector to ask whether discrimination prevents career progression. It suggested that neurodivergence be separated from but included alongside disability in DEI efforts across legal education, training and practice, and in data collection on diversity in the profession.


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