Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Impact of lawyers' invisible disabilities on their professional challenges and their perception of their performance

Zats, Ronit (2014): Impact of lawyers' invisible disabilities on their professional challenges and their perception of their performance. Published in: International Research Journal of York University , Vol. 1, No. 1 (May 2014): pp. 107-128.

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The aim of the current study was to learn about the difficulties stemming from invisible disorders in the practice of law, what do lawyers with invisible disorders do to cope with their disorders, what are their considerations in choosing their job specialty, what is their motivation to choose law as their profession and practice it, and how do they define their professional success and failure. Practicing law is challenging in many aspects. First, one is at a position to be knowledgeable about legislation, which has a dynamic nature. There is a constant need for recognizing the issues at hand, while acting fast to find proper legislative solutions to represent the client as best as possible. To do this, a lawyer is ought to be able to properly analyze the case, be knowledgeable about relevant laws and legislation, be detail-oriented, be able to multi-task and manage large amount of information, to properly assess what the main issue at hand is, and efficiently manage the case. Practicing law also requires proper communication and having the ability to connect between details - all of which must be accomplished within a strict timeline. Therefore, to succeed as a lawyer, one should be focused, be able concentrate on a high level, and have good organizational and time management skills. Some lawyers are struggling with invisible disabilities, such as attention deficits and hyperactivity disorders, as well as learning disabilities, and for them practicing law is a double-challenge. Similarly to their colleagues, they are required to practice law as demanded by their profession, but (and mainly) cope with their invisible disorder to professionally succeed. Often individuals with invisible disabilities are unaware of their situation and to the fact that these may have been the source for their difficulties in school or at work. For example, they may have difficulties to carry through assignments from beginning to end, to focus on one task, and they may unsuccessfully try to concurrently engage in many tasks. During school they may overcome their disorder by creating coping mechanisms, such as studying in groups, rewriting assignments, and reading class' notes taken by classmates, to compensate for their disabilities. Usually such coping strategies masked their disorder from them and their surroundings. Nevertheless, other individuals with sucfh disorders are aware of their situation, thereby they have been getting accommodations to their disabilities while in school (e.g. time-adjustment during exams, fitting the type of exams to their capabilities, and tutoring). Like other students with invisible disabilities, law students with these kinds of difficulties may eventually do very well in school. The main challenge for these lawyers is in the workforce. Practicing law is a very competitive occupation. The institution of law, the clients and colleagues, and the community – all have high expectation from lawyers. In Israel there is not enough awareness for the possibility that professionals who practice law may be struggling with invisible disabilities.

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