How do firms consider physical disabilities?

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How do firms consider physical disabilities?

Post by olemiss18 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:29 pm

Hey, folks. I don't post often and I'm not sure if this goes here, but I had a question for anyone willing to swing at it or might be helpful. How do firms (particularly biglaw but not exclusively) look at candidates with physical disabilities? I have one that does not prevent me from doing attorney work but it's certainly noticeable and not controversial (as in it's clearly covered by the ADA and unquestionably so by the majority of the public; I know some folks may wonder if I'm talking about obesity or something, so I just wanted to clarify).

This may seem odd for me asking, but I am genuinely curious if this gives me a leg up in obtaining employment. I don't feel particularly bad about asking that, as it's DEFINITELY given me a leg down in life. So mitigating that with better employment prospects is not the worst thing in the world in my opinion.

For the record, I'm a 1L at a T20 and do not yet have a GPA established during law school.


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Re: How do firms consider physical disabilities?

Post by blkhk » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:51 pm

While disability is covered by anti discrimination law, I'm under the impression that most firms don't really think about it as a diversity factor. Things might be changing, but so far it seems more like a disadvantage than advantage if anything:

2014: ... eckdam.pdf
2015: ... onceptions
2016: ... sabilities

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Re: How do firms consider physical disabilities?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:09 pm

I doubt any law firm partner would admit it to you, but an obvious physical disability is going to be a huge hurdle in hiring. Once you start at a law firm, you’re billed out hourly and the partners expect a certain level of efficiency from associates. I’m not saying that you won’t be as good a lawyer or less efficient, but that many people will make that assumption. The best way to mitigate discrimination against your disability is to get very good grades. That’s the best case scenario as it will prove to people making hiring decisions at firms that you’re capable of performing (ignoring that grades aren’t the best indicator of success as an attorney, etc.). Bad grades will be the go-to justification for not hiring you.


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Re: How do firms consider physical disabilities?

Post by Redrobbin2018 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:56 pm

A top form told me it has no bearing on hiring is asked for HR purposes. No boost Bubba. Pays to talk to ocs re how to mention it.

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Re: How do firms consider physical disabilities?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:58 am

Non-nyc biglaw associate w/ disability here

While there are certainly the people such as the poster above who ascribe to the idea that people w/ disability are on average less efficient, this will not be the norm in my experience.

As stated above, I'm not aware of any firms that actively engage in any form of affirmative action for lawyers w/ disabilities, but more and more firms are beginning to recognize their oversight wrt disability as a diversity factor. It likely won't get you a job outright, but if you have the grades, interview skills, and create a narrative for how your disability has impacted your skills/life (annoying I know) you will likely be able to find a biglaw gig. In my experience, and based on conversations with partners, I would go as far as to say with the right audience a law student with a disability will generally receive a tangible benefit at the interview stage.

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