View Full Version : Lawyers with ADHD

06-19-17, 12:31 PM
I do know, I am not the only lawyer diagnosed with ADHD. Are there some here on the forum?
The entry into my professional life was the biggest problem I ever had, I believe. Practicing law means a lot of responsibility and even bevor I started it I did not feel well about this. Because of my ADHD I feel like kind of child in a grown-up body with the knowlege and qualification of a grown-up.

It does not really fit with practicing law an gives me the feeling to be an imposter just playing the lawyer with the fear that someday someone will find out.
Sure I have the exams, the knowlege and the hard skills of a lawyer, but my mind is in parts a childs mind.
Is anyone here feeling the same?

(I hope my language is clear enough as it is quite hard for me to express myself in english for it is a foreign language to me.)

06-19-17, 01:00 PM
Welcome! Your English is very clear and easy to understand.

In those professions that require a lot of knowledge and have a high reputation with the public, many people feel like imposters that will soon be found out - certainly not just those with ADHD. It's normal to feel this way.

The feeling is probably magnified by having ADHD, because through our lives most of us have learned to doubt ourselves too much.

06-19-17, 01:35 PM
It has nothing to do with this topic, but I just looked about for the person, you quote in your signature and found Daniel Dennett. Quite interessting! I did not know him.

06-19-17, 01:48 PM
It has nothing to do with this topic, but I just looked about for the person, you quote in your signature and found Daniel Dennett. Quite interessting! I did not know him.
He can be brilliant. He can sometimes also get a little too enthusiastic about certain things and make people cringe.

06-19-17, 09:05 PM
I am not a lawyer, but I think your 'childish' attitude can be put to your advantage.

Most lawyers believe (or are forced by their corporations into this attitude) that they need to play smart,
solemn and arrogant because otherwise people will not value their opinions (with enough zeroes on the check).

I'd rather go to and recommend a lawyer who's a little scattered but empathic to my problems, than to a super-professional-grown-up one with ivy desk who can't wait to clock you one more hour

06-20-17, 07:30 AM
Well yes, people often like me.
I never said there was nothing positiv.

If I were just a little scattered the diagnosis of ADHD would be wrong. What I am is a lot scattered.
One day a client (having ADHD himself) was sitting next to me in my office while I was trying - without success - to stop my printer from messing up my floor with papers the thing printed without my conscious command. As I was wondering, how and why this was happening the client quietly said to me: "Ritalin, that will help."
And I could not stop myself from answering: "No, it does NOT!" because I had allready tried it (without any success) for more than a year. My impulsiveness not even gave me the slightest chance to talk my way out.

Such incidents I can see in a humoristic way, but there is nothing funny with the consequences of my procrastination. I am not only loosing lots of money and some clients to procrastination but also sometimes damage the interests of clients.

This moment I should do my work but I do not know where to start and can not motivate myself.

It would be great to meet other lawyers in the same situation. In real life most of them never talk about their ADHD. I met a few law students that did not hide their ADHD, but no lawyers. In real life you can talk about suffering burn out, but have to hide ADHD if you are practising law. Some politicians stand by the fakt that they have ADHD. I can not.

We are in this forum enoughanonymous to to communicate with one another without negativ effects on our jobs. Where are you lawyers with ADHD? I can not be the only one!

06-20-17, 11:32 AM
Hello :)
I work as an assistant in a law firm; I know of one confirmed diagnosis, another extremely likely, amongst the lawyers here.

I don't have much advice for the procrastination as I work for someone who is very demanding and works fast , so it's not much of an issue.
(He is actually the "extremely likely" case mentioned above! but also type A/rigourous. Anyway i figure, you pretty much have to have adhd as an employee of the firm, to follow the unrelated things he asks for. I really wonder how he even records his time, because he is jumping between things all day).

anyway, they are out there somewhere, I'm sure!

06-20-17, 12:21 PM
Hello Stef,

thanks for answering!

I know the trouble with procrastination could be stopped, if I had an assistent. Once I had one, but she lost her job because I could not pay her anymore. This started a downward spiral.
It is a vicious circle: If I have to work alone procrastination and disorganisation grow. I loose lots of money because of this and because I have not enough money I can not employ a new assistant ans so on.

Once I tried to escape the circle and found a great young man who started in my law office as a trainee. It seemed to work, but then a
payment default I did not manage to compensate ruined everything.

Since then I have two jobs: Apart from my law office I work as a teacher in adult education. This avoided my insolvency.

To manage two jobs without assistance is more difficult but I saw no alternative. Positive is the experience to teach. It is kind of compensation.

06-20-17, 03:37 PM
Procrastination is a Hydra. You need the sword, and the fire - and also a lot of other weapons - to kill it. Don't look for the right method to fix procrastination - use all of them at once.

07-05-17, 05:14 PM
I am not a lawyer, though I did attend law school briefly. You have my deep respect for pulling off such a grinding curriculum. Your description of the subjective experience uncanny.
My own law school career was a flaming disaster - not only didn't I graduate, but I never "technically" received a Bachelor's degree AND I was arrested two days prior to the start of class.
Then again, my best friend ( who did graduate from a different school) began having delusional episodes in his late thirties. Two years later, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, disbarred, and institutionalized.
So, on balance, life is good.

07-08-17, 11:16 AM
Lawyers with ADHD, how do you force yourselves to study? I cant even make it through a long email let alone do something like study for the bar exam. What are your strategies?

07-08-17, 12:26 PM
Why dont lawyers like sharks?

(lol sorry I couldnt resist.)

07-16-17, 12:56 PM
Lawyers with ADHD, how do you force yourselves to study? I cant even make it through a long email let alone do something like study for the bar exam. What are your strategies?

Most of the time I did not force myself to study. I learned a lot writing papers and reading things I was interested in. What I often did was kind of "surfing the library" like surfing the internet.

Sometimes I tried to force myself to read something and after a few minutes fell asleep in the library. This was an useless effort.

Right bevore my exames I tried to force myself to read a lot and rented a small room to lock myself up with only my books to ceep away distraction.
This didn't work at all. I slept a lot an had lot's of sexual dreams but all the books stayed unread.

If there is any strategy that worked, it was not to force myself to do anything.

07-17-17, 01:50 AM
Who would think German codes can be so inspiring :)

07-27-17, 08:09 AM
Lurker who just registered to respond to this. After 19 years as a lawyer I have to get out! I have inattentive type, only diagnosed 2 years ago. I came to my diagnosis after googling something like "lawyer can't meet deadlines" and found the profile of another lawyer with ADD. I had all the criteria my whole life, but for some reason it's getting worse! Even with medication (Adderall xr 40mg /Welbutrin 300 now trying Vyvannse 40 mg but having horrible memory problems.) Incidentally, a German friend suggested I become a lawyer (he is one too) but it's been pretty disastrous.
I am great in a new job. People are amazed at my ability to tackle any legal issue (I love novelty - hate doing same thing over and over!). I rarely lose law and motion when I turn the motherf* thing in on time! But the work I don't seem to feel like doing piles up, deadlines get missed, all bad. Fired thrice!
I used to love jury trials because I thrive under pressure and thru hyperfocus I could juggle endless facts, witnesses, etc. However, lately I can't remember anything (even before Vyvannse). I blanked out last year arguing a criminal appeal to a three judge panel, and they just stared at me unimpressed while I tried to remember what I was trying to say. My last jury trial was so chaotic and disorganized, but I pulled out the win by thinking on my feet. Afterwards, I found several documents in the mess of a file that would have made my trial easier. Trials are best won in the tedious preparation and planning, not by winging it.
I have the imposter feeling which causes me to avoid pushing cases forward especially when I have to deal with opposing counsel.
In law school I could never do the actual reading, but relied on case summaries instead. Surprised to pass the bar exam first time but I always test well under pressure.
Anyway, I basically gave up trying to be a full-time litigator after being fired 7 years ago and had a major depression episode lasting 6 months. I now practice as little as possible. So now my income is worse than if I did another job with less deadlines and pressure and responsibility.
Whenever I do less time-sensitive work, like drafting contracts, I get bored out of my mind and tend to make stupid mistakes. (A German client of mine was very unhappy to learn the commercial lease I wrote had no late payment penalties, so the tenant looked at it as a 0% loan until she finally evicted them!)
I am less depressed now. I know what my problem is plus the Welbutrin helps I am sure. I want to make clear that stimulants have helped me a lot and have made life much better overall - in my relationship, etc. But I don't think I could work in a serious office again like I used to. I don't know what to do. My father has all sorts of suggestions like insurance sales, etc. and I finally shut him up recently when I said I can't do ANY paperwork, period. Another German acquaintance went to clown school in Berlin, and I suspect clowns perform minimal paperwork, but I can't juggle despite years of episodic attempts, and I still don't really get clowns (not afraid of 'em, I just don't understand them.) Meanwhile, I am trying a write an extremely complicated, speculative science fiction novel, but it's more a hobby than a vocation. My God! I've just barfed up a whole load of crap on this thread. Sorry. What was your question?
Well, I guess I can't seem to avoid Germans! Ich wuenche Ihnen viel Glueck in die Zukunft mit Jura oder etwas anders! [I wish you good luck in the future with law or somethng else!]