Haley Moss, attorney, author, advocate, thought leader, and consultant, spoke during WMU-Cooley Law School’s virtual Community Conversation, Neurodiversity: The World is Better for our Differences. The discussion on Thursday, July 7, which provided insights into neurodiversity within the practice of law, was moderated by WMU-Cooley Professor Christine Church and hosted by the Florida Bar Law School Affiliates Young Lawyers Division.
Moss shared how her own experiences have given her a unique perspective with honoring neurodiversity within professional settings. Moss, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, compared the brains of neurodiverse and neuro-typical individuals to having an app on an iPhone vs an Android. The other phone is not broken for not being compatible with that app, but needs to be considered differently on the basis of diagnosis and identity.
“The way that our brains work, we might be more creative, we might have had to adapt our entire lives and have strategies and ideas that help us with legal issues,” said Moss.
During the presentation, Moss noted that lawyers with disabilities make up less than one percent of those in the profession, but up to 12.5 percent of lawyers report having attention deficit disorder. Moss spoke to how some clients have trust in her because they share similar life experiences and she is able to relate with them and allow for them to not feel a sense of being alone.
“If I view it as something that's a good thing about me, I'm going to share that because it makes me unique. Maybe, it's how I solve problems. Maybe it's how I adapt or that I'm creative. Whatever it might be that I think it might be an advantage.”
Moss stressed how a lot of times, companies view inclusion as a checkbox item, not something that’s a long-term commitment. She talked about the importance of self-advocacy, whether that be for accommodations and accessibility or specific work-related and productivity needs.
“We have to understand each other and be a little bit more empathetic. After all, we do need different kinds of brains and different kinds of minds working together,” said Moss. “I think we can truly have a more inclusive legal profession and school community.”
The full conversation can be viewed at WMU-Cooley’s YouTube channel under the WMU-Cooley Community Conversation Playlist.