ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:13 pm

Made multiple posts already in this thread. But I want to share one of the most ridiculous things I've spent hours on:

https://www.thewikigame.com/

The game assigns you two articles. The goal is to navigate from one article to another as quickly and with as few jumps as possible. Global rankings.

I've spent hours playing this game during all nighters before finals.

You're welcome.

Bonus: sometimes you jump to an interesting article and forget your playing the game.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 16, 2020 1:59 pm

(OP again) I’m so happy that game requires to you download an app to do it on your phone because otherwise I would’ve already spent hours on it (app feels like too much trouble).

Do you guys feel like your legal career is an endless series of you over-promising and underdelivering? Part of that is because I have no discipline and waste hours on stuff like the Wiki game, and also that I don’t have a good sense of how long things take, but I think another problem is that when someone presents an unreasonable deadline to me but frames it like it’s totally normal, my instinct is always that *I’m* wrong and that it must be doable even though it doesn’t seem to be. I’m also wary of pushing back on deadlines because I feel guilty about previous instances in which I’ve blown them for dumb reasons (wiki game). Inevitably, however, I’m late on the deadline and look irresponsible anyway. Repeat x infinity.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 16, 2020 5:55 pm

Yes. In addition of what you mentioned, there is also the idea that I (we?) CAN deliver if only we didn’t get sidetracked.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 1:59 pm
(OP again) I’m so happy that game requires to you download an app to do it on your phone because otherwise I would’ve already spent hours on it (app feels like too much trouble).

Do you guys feel like your legal career is an endless series of you over-promising and underdelivering? Part of that is because I have no discipline and waste hours on stuff like the Wiki game, and also that I don’t have a good sense of how long things take, but I think another problem is that when someone presents an unreasonable deadline to me but frames it like it’s totally normal, my instinct is always that *I’m* wrong and that it must be doable even though it doesn’t seem to be. I’m also wary of pushing back on deadlines because I feel guilty about previous instances in which I’ve blown them for dumb reasons (wiki game). Inevitably, however, I’m late on the deadline and look irresponsible anyway. Repeat x infinity.
Previously posted ITT as ADHD biglaw senior anon.

I empathize with your sentiments. There are plenty of times when I come out of meetings thinking "no problem, I'll just plow through x, y, and z," then all of the sudden it's 3 days later and I'm up against the final deadlines and super crunched with 0 progress having been made. Yes, it leads to the reaction you talk about - just accepting deadlines as they come since only a couple screw ups give the partner all the leverage they need to micromanage everything in your life. And after blowing a few deadlines for no reason, it gets both easier to blow more and worse for your reputation (after a few years you know what deadlines are fake, and they stop being good motivators to get work done).

I don't know how to solve it. I hope moving out of biglaw solves it.

Edit: I'll also say that, in the CYA, roll-shit-downhill life of biglaw, blowing even an unimportant deadline by a few hours gives the higher-ups all the ammunition they need to blame every subsequent problem on you. It's not necessarily fair or correct, but it is what it is. Deadlines are sacrosanct in biglaw, even if they are fake, and are treated accordingly. Everyone is always looking to blame someone else for their screw ups, and nothing is easier than "this was late," even if the partner still had 3 weeks to look at it and didn't turn to it until a day before filing.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:04 am

Not a tip, but I was hoping I could ask a question.

I haven't been formally diagnosed with ADHD, but I believe there's a strong chance that I have it. I relate to a lot of the comments on this thread, especially with the ones where we lie about how much we studied / worked in order to avoid looking lazy.

I just graduated law school and will be starting biglaw this fall. I'm absolutely terrified of billable hours because, as people have mentioned, working "efficiently" won't help me meet my hours. I've been tracking the number of hours I study for the bar lately, and the average is like 2 even though I'm stuck home and literally dedicate the entire day to bar prep.

The obvious thing to do is get help and, if diagnosed, seek medication. I really dislike the idea of being on medication though unless it will be a game-changer. I also have some personal reasons for not wanting to be diagnosed (although probably not super rational). I plan on trying out biglaw for a year without getting any help and seeing if I can survive. I figure, if I'm really slipping, I can try to get help then. Wondering what other people's thoughts are though. Is medication important enough that I should try it out from day 1?

Thanks in advance. Really appreciate this thread.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:57 am

I'm the "impostor" that got out of biglaw already.

I resisted medication for a long time and I still try to stick with coffee before resorting to Adderal. I'm at the point I pretty much look at an assignment and I know off the bat whether I need to take a 15mg extended release (low dose based on my research) with a double shot expresso chaser to force me to get STARTED on an assignment that I know to be just a time sink that won't get my brain going.

For me, it was not quite a game changer in the sense it made me feel normal or super focused. But it helped enough for me to hand in some assignments on time or semi-ontime. Some people in the support group I used to attend indicated medication didn't make a difference and some others indicated it was life changing. One of the girls that said it was life changing said she found it worked best for her when she put the pill next to her bed with a glass of water and made taking the medication literally the first thing she does when she wakes up.

There are a lot of things you can do to "manage" ADHD a bit. It took me a few therapists/psychologists and an ADHD support group before I found a therapist that has legitimate experience and seems to understand what I am going through without just telling me to try this and that technique "neurotypical" people use to stay focused.

For me it was very important to understand I need to go at very high speeds to stay engaged. That means picking up challenging but short assignments on short deadlines. That means creating artificial deadlines like "can we talk tomorrow at this time about what I have?" forcing me to at least put something forward.

But ultimately, for me, it meant moving to an industry where almost everything moves at light speed and is due yesterday. I know a couple people with ADHD that eventually made partner in biglaw by basically making work their life hunting for one high stress assignment after another. You guys might know them as the guys partners go to to put out fires.

-ADHDImpostorAnon1
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:04 am
Is medication important enough that I should try it out from day 1?

Thanks in advance. Really appreciate this thread.

In my (OP) opinion, yes. I grew up in a fairly anti-medication family/area (not like “God will heal us” level but there was always a lot of talk about anti-depressants and ADHD meds turning people into zombies). I also was very wary of feeling like I was “cheating” the system by taking meds. However, the reality is that medication is by far the most effective treatment for ADHD [edit: in terms of the overall population, obviously YMMV on a personal level], and not even by a close margin - there is little evidence that diet, ongoing therapy, etc. have a significant impact. Exercise has some benefit, and there are environmental modifications that can help people (mostly effective in very controlled situations like school), but the studies to date suggest that none of those things compares to medication.

Having said that, obviously people get by without medication even after they’re diagnosed, and I was several years into biglaw before I was diagnosed, so I’m not trying to suggest that it’s impossible to succeed without it. However, I generally think people are doing themselves a disservice by not trying it (absent extenuating factors like history of addiction, heart problems, etc.).

Anecdata from my own experiences:
  • As I said, I was worried medication would feel like an unfair advantage, but I haven’t really found that to be the case. Although there is a clear difference in my ability to do things when I’m on my medication, which does feel like “cheating” on a personal level, I don’t feel like a superhuman. I’m not a high biller, I still do stuff like TLS in the middle of the day when I should be working, I’m still the queen of careless mistakes, etc.
  • I don’t feel high when I take my medication, nor do I start doing weird stuff like sorting my pens in order repeatedly like people do in movies when they take Adderall. When I first started taking it, I had a few weeks where my heartbeat felt fast and I was kind of “aware” that I had taken something, but that generally passes quickly (assuming you’re not taking a dose that’s too high for you). Now I feel nothing when I’m taking it. People say that you shouldn’t judge the effectiveness on how you feel, but rather on how you acted, and I think that’s right. If I’ve taken my medication, it’s not unusual for me to consistently work on a project for an hour straight. If I haven’t taken it, that only happens if the project is urgent and already late.
  • I do feel the contrast on days where I forget to take it. It’s nothing at all like “withdrawal” - although some people do have issues with abusing ADHD meds, apparently it’s less common with people who actually have ADHD, and I’ve never felt tempted to take more than my dose or anything like that - it’s more like, now that I know what it feels like to be a semi-functional human, going back to my pre-ADHD brain feels...fuzzy? Some people strongly advocate taking breaks to avoid “tolerance” but at least as of now, it doesn’t seem like the concept of tolerance is really supported by any significant weight of scientific evidence. My psychiatrist encouraged me to take mine every day (as he put it, it’s not like you want to succeed at work but live in a dump because you can’t get yourself to do the dishes), and I typically do so. If I take a couple of days off in a row, I do get SUPER tired, but that passes in a couple of days.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:43 pm

New poster, but anon because some identifying information:

I'm currently a law student, but am coming off some work experience before and during school.

I was diagnosed with ADHD in middle school (yes it was that bad). I stayed medicated until college, and then went off-meds during college (which became a disaster that I barely graduated from), but am still off-med at a T30-50 and am now within the top 5 (people, not percent) of the class. I still deal with symptoms though.

I still have trouble focusing on my work. In the context of studying, this means I have to take a lot of time for my studying - I want to get 6 hours or so of work, I need to book 8-10 hours. The biggest consequence is the strain of law school on other portions of my life, namely my relationship. In the context of work product, I also need to spend more time on my proofreading because I zone out often. And, in the context of admin work, I find myself getting behind on billing and other admin stuff far too often.

On the flip side, my psychiatrist once told me ADHD often resulted in "hyper-focusing" where I blocked out most of the world and focused on what was in front of me. When I get in this mood for work, whether for a research project or drafting a memo or a motion or examining documents, great!

But for most of my time, I have a few ways to cope with ADHD. I can't affirmatively force myself into the hyperfocused mode. Instead, I have to minimize my distractions so that I can slip into my hyperfocused mode. In random order: (1) I got myself a standing desk, so I stand often while working - I've found that its harder to drift off when I'm on my feet rather than on my butt. (2) In the halcyon pre-COVID days, I often studied outside of my room, so I could convince myself that others would judge me if they saw me on the internet. (3) I typed out all my notes and did multiple drafts of outlines and other thinking work product, because engaging both my body and my mind made me less distractible. (4) I got website blockers, but they're not sufficient. Often times I just choose to go get distracted at another site. (5) I avoid listening to music while working.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:23 pm

One of the hardest things about WFH for me has been my wife just thinks I am free to run errands for her when I am really having an episode of ADHD.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:40 am
I will flesh out the post later but a bit occupied now.

I was diagnosed with and treated for ADHD in law school. I was diagnosed with a previously unknown reading disability as well.

I am still seeing a therapist and taking Adderal.

I was always above average, no matter where I went, ivy/T14/youth camps for talented kids/graduate level math classes. I had bursts where I finished top 10%, even top of class, when I just focused for some weird reason. It didn't matter how hard the class was supposed to be. I just ended up being above average and I literally made calculations in my head on whether I could afford to just skip on an assignment, despite knowing very clearly I should just do them. To be frank, I haven't found a class to be challenging to finish in the top 1/3 or top 1/10 (if I tried) in. It's not I didn't want to finish top 10% of class consistently, it's more just like I just kind of lose interest after making it for a semester. This happened with my 1L year. Knowing how high stakes 1L was, I basically buckled down and did kind of work a bit first semester... 1 A- put me out of 4.0. All I did was go to class, listen, and made sure I had a day to retype someone else's outline before exams. I stopped reading the case book like a week in. That wasn't happening. Then I just lost interest. It didn't help on strength of 1L I had 1L summers locked up... and found it even harder to care. By the end of second semester, I was already full time grinding poker in class via VPN.

I'm not trying to brag. I have been filled with guilt and a kind of impostor syndrome for years. Despite outward appearances, I always felt like an underachiever and a poser. I can't even count the number of times I lied about how much I studied (often, absolutely zero in reality). I even lied about my LSAT (I told classmates a lower number than what I got). I honestly just felt embarassed how much I was slacking off in law school and didn't want people to know. Even now, I feel like an impostor making as much as I do for putting in less than 1/4 of the work I know most of my coworkers are putting in.

One of the reasons I ended up out of biglaw is I knew I wouldn't be successful long due to the ADHD still not being under control. I handed papers in late in law school and, despite very strong desire to study, I'd end up staying all night playing computer games and basically spend 2 or 3 hours printing someone else's outline before exam started then just waltz in and out and get A/A-. This was the pattern during highschool and college years too. I was constantly crushing all nighters for assignments that I had plenty of time for.

To be honest, this has come to a head recently with WFH. Without being physically in the office, and just all kinds of emails taking forever, I have had tons of excuses about being late... and to my horror, I am using those excuses and I am rapidly approaching the point where I see the need for multiple all nighters to catch up.

And yet, I just wasted like 15 minutes to type this tome.

Probably scarier, a part of me is looking forward to the all nighters.

You guys basically just read what I am planning to talk to my therapist about this Saturday.
As an incoming student at HYS with ADHD I really relate to this. I was diagnosed when I was six and have been on medications since then, and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. But I'm still worried about my performance in LS. I've always been a procrastinator, but I was always intelligent enough to still get amazing grades in both my STEM and social science majors. I know for a fact that procrastination is a recipe for disaster in law school, so I'm wondering if any of you have any tips for staying motivated and maintaining a steady work schedule throughout 1L.

My hope is that my fear of abject failure and not getting the firms I want will motivate me to put in a lot of sustained effort, but as we all know this isn't a guarantee. Fear of not getting into a top school definitely motivated me while studying for the LSAT, but that was over the course of a relatively short period of time (month long Christmas break). I worked like a dog for that entire time and it paid off in the end, but I'm worried that no matter what I do I'll fall back into my old ways and under-perform this year.

Also, does anyone have experiences with accommodations in LS for ADHD? I never sought them out in HS/College because of pride, but I'm worried about the sensory overload of sitting in a room with a bunch of other students that are typing furiously on the computer. Obviously doesn't apply now given COVID, but has anyone requested to take exams in a separate room to eliminate sensory distractions? I could also get extra time (I think) but I really don't want to deal with the stigma associated with students who get time accommodations. I got to HYS on my own, and I sure as hell don't want anyone to think otherwise.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:19 pm
OP here - nice (and sad) to hear that you guys have all of the same problems that I do. It's hard to find people to talk to about this stuff - most non-lawyers with ADHD don't really get the law firm/in-house environment, and most lawyers don't seem to get ADHD.

To the first reply, I have a similar situation with my partner - it's part of what made me realize that maybe there was something wrong with me besides just being lazy. I try to explain to him things like "when I say I got nothing done today, I mean I LITERALLY got nothing done, not that I didn't get through everything I was hoping to do." He tries to be nice about it but clearly doesn't understand (tbf, neither do I).

Re: medication, I think I might be lucky with this in some ways - I wasn't diagnosed until I had been working for a while, so I've always had my work schedule to time my medication around. I find taking it at the same time every day helps a TON - it kind of feels like my brain gets into the habit of being a functional adult for a certain window of time every day. I used to try to "save it" until right before I was about to start working, but now I take extended release right after I get up and it really helps me get a better start to the day. Night work once my meds have worn off is brutal, though, and I also have to be extremely strict with myself during the day about not giving into the urge to do non-work things that I already find engaging without medication, because I'll end up doing them for hours.

In terms of the medication not working anymore, I definitely have days where it feels like it's not helping at all, but overall I do tend to buy into the studies that suggest that "tolerance" is often either that you never reached your correct dose in the first place or that you're going through a uniquely stressful period (so even though you're on the right dose, there's only so much it can do).

I do think work is better than law school overall since you can't cram billable hours at the last minute like you can for a test, so there is that push to do stuff on an ongoing basis. Everything else about work is pretty awful, though. So demoralizing to feel like I've been doing unpleasant stuff all day and that I only took a few breaks and then look at my time entries and I've somehow billed like 3.75 hours by 6 PM.

Also 100% agree with the reply about how challenging it is that there's no reward for efficiency in biglaw. I think I'm similar to whoever wrote that reply in that I've managed to get by and I generally get relatively good feedback and reviews, but there are also times that I know I look like an irresponsible idiot, and I constantly feel like I have to put in double the mental effort of a "normal" person just to barely scrape by and avoid people noticing how often I'm late on things, or how I randomly only billed 5 hours two days in a row last week despite having work to do, or how many times I make stupid sloppy mistakes, etc. The level of perfectionism in biglaw is really rough - even when I look like a functional person on the outside, on the inside I'm always worrying about stuff I'm late on, worrying about a dumb mistake I made, trying to find something important that I know I saved in a random Word document once but I'm not sure where, wondering how bad I'm going to look if I have to ask someone to explain part of an assignment again because I spaced out for half of the meeting, etc.

I have often wished that I had done transactional instead of lit, but in some ways I think it would be worse - although I work much better under a lot of time pressure, I'm not great at handling that kind of pressure over an extended period of time. I loathe that feeling that I HAVE to do a particular project and have no ability to do a little of Project A and then a little of Project B, or put Project A off until tomorrow when I'm less tired, etc. I think I would have burned out even sooner if I was constantly having to force myself to do boring, detail-intensive tasks on super short timelines.
Just posted my story in this thread, but I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was six and have been on a variety of meds since then. In my experience, building up a tolerance to stimulant medications is inevitable . If you stop feeling any benefits from the meds, it's time to increase your dose. And if you're at the max dose and stop feeling anything, it's time to switch meds. I've gone through the aforementioned process a lot and it has definitely helped manage my symptoms over the long term. It's important to remember that the psychopharmacology of each stimulant is different, which means that your tolerance to an amphetamine like Adderall doesn't carry over to methylphenidates like Focalin or Ritalin. Taking drug holidays were helpful when I was younger, but once I got to college I found there never a "good time" to stop taking them.

I've also found that taking 200mg caffeine pills along with my meds amplifies the effects and extends the life of my prescribed dose. This is obviously not healthy so don't do it if you think it could result in cardiac problems, but I thought I would throw it out there for my fellow ADHDers who are struggling with tolerance issues.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 9:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:38 am
As an incoming student at HYS with ADHD I really relate to this. I was diagnosed when I was six and have been on medications since then, and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. But I'm still worried about my performance in LS. I've always been a procrastinator, but I was always intelligent enough to still get amazing grades in both my STEM and social science majors. I know for a fact that procrastination is a recipe for disaster in law school, so I'm wondering if any of you have any tips for staying motivated and maintaining a steady work schedule throughout 1L.

My hope is that my fear of abject failure and not getting the firms I want will motivate me to put in a lot of sustained effort, but as we all know this isn't a guarantee. Fear of not getting into a top school definitely motivated me while studying for the LSAT, but that was over the course of a relatively short period of time (month long Christmas break). I worked like a dog for that entire time and it paid off in the end, but I'm worried that no matter what I do I'll fall back into my old ways and under-perform this year.

Also, does anyone have experiences with accommodations in LS for ADHD? I never sought them out in HS/College because of pride, but I'm worried about the sensory overload of sitting in a room with a bunch of other students that are typing furiously on the computer. Obviously doesn't apply now given COVID, but has anyone requested to take exams in a separate room to eliminate sensory distractions? I could also get extra time (I think) but I really don't want to deal with the stigma associated with students who get time accommodations. I got to HYS on my own, and I sure as hell don't want anyone to think otherwise.
I also went to HYS, and it was super unpleasant tbh. I did not know that I had ADHD at the time, and it felt like three years of feeling panicky about being surrounded by studious overachievers but still not being able to get myself to do anything.

As to your specific questions, I didn’t ever really manage a “steady” work schedule, but honestly my best advice is to lean into the “fear of failure” motivator. This is the only thing that kept me semi on task in class, only thing that helped me sometimes get through the reading for class, etc. I didn’t get a ton out of the classes or reading but it probably would have been better if I had been on meds at the time. The KEY for me (and it’s not even close) was getting good outlines and as many practice exams as possible and then working like CRAZY to internalize all of the info in them during the few weeks before exams.

You’ll have to experiment to figure out works for you, but my process was usually to find the best outlines of the set and then try to combine them all into my own brand new outline that I started from scratch. Once I finished that, I would start doing practice exams. Usually all of this was BRUTAL at first because I had learned so little during the semester, but it worked if I kept at it. Flash cards were also good for classes with a lot of black letter law/cases to memorize - I usually made my own based on my outline. Exam grading also gets way easier after 1L which helps.

Things that did not help me at all (YMMV):
- studying with other people (including collaborative outlines): stressful and no benefit, with the one exception being teaching a subject to another person, which did help. 1Ls are mostly just super stressful to be around, though.

- outlining throughout the semester: maybe it would’ve been different if I had been on medication, but these outlines were always a total waste of time for me because I didn’t even understand what I was writing about at the time.

- taking notes in class: always messy and I find it hard to listen and take notes at the same time. Taking zero notes is a risk, though - I still did it most of the time in 1L, I just see looking back that it was a waste of time for me personally. Not bringing my laptop to class was good, but guess that’s moot bc pandemic.

Re: accommodations, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea of asking for extra time - I guess I felt like if I could get into a good law school without stuff like that, maybe it wasn’t justified (in my specific case, I totally think there are people for whom they are likely justified). Re: taking exams in another room, I recall people having arrangements like that. I barely noticed and wouldn’t be overly concerned about anyone else noticing either (or caring, for that matter). Lots of people used earplugs and stuff like that, so it wouldn’t be much beyond that. I usually end up super in the zone in exam environments so I didn’t bother with head phones - the intense stress and time pressure was enough to get me to focus.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:00 am

Anon that was quoted by this post here.
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:38 am
My hope is that my fear of abject failure and not getting the firms I want will motivate me to put in a lot of sustained effort, but as we all know this isn't a guarantee. Fear of not getting into a top school definitely motivated me while studying for the LSAT, but that was over the course of a relatively short period of time (month long Christmas break). I worked like a dog for that entire time and it paid off in the end, but I'm worried that no matter what I do I'll fall back into my old ways and under-perform this year.
First semester is all I needed and 1L is all you need at most.

Let me be even blunter, the 2 weeks of finals and the 2 weeks (1 week each semester) before finals are probably enough to get pretty solid grades with ADHD level of hyper-focus. If you want straight As, extend that by a couple weeks per semester tracking down more outlines to incorporate and assimilate. Reading case books, taking notes, making briefs, and all that good jazz was totally useless for me. I got more out of attending class by just focusing on what the professor has on the blackboard and puzzling out implications on the spot and attacking his/her hypotheticals.

Overall I found law school itself really easy and actually mostly masked ADHD's weaknesses.

It was the practice of law that was really bad for me. In practice, the memos/letters/discovery requests/contracts are borderline/straightup boiler plate and seniors sent all kinds of samples and we're expected to follow the language. It's stuff that T1/T2 kids that got in the firm through nepotism could do with some practice and training.
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:38 am
Also, does anyone have experiences with accommodations in LS for ADHD? I never sought them out in HS/College because of pride, but I'm worried about the sensory overload of sitting in a room with a bunch of other students that are typing furiously on the computer. Obviously doesn't apply now given COVID, but has anyone requested to take exams in a separate room to eliminate sensory distractions? I could also get extra time (I think) but I really don't want to deal with the stigma associated with students who get time accommodations. I got to HYS on my own, and I sure as hell don't want anyone to think otherwise.
My LS gave 1.5x time and quiet room for ADHD for those that asked. Don't worry about stigma. I never did ask but I know for certain many people did. I learned this while taking make-up exams with lecture halls packed with people on lists of 1.5x and 2x times.

I empathize with the feeling that I shouldn't need the extra time. I rationalize all the time still that no client is going to pay me for 1.5x time but in reality, hand on heart, pride was probably the biggest factor. For most exams I really didn't need the time and I get in the zone really fast under test conditions. But I still could think of a few exams where that extra time would have pushed up my grade a notch or two.

-ADHDImpostorAnon1
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:14 pm

Posting anonymously (for fear of professional repercussions) because so much of this thread resonated with me.

I graduated in the top 3 students in my class at a T10 law school. I constantly struggled with guilt for not working hard enough and lied about my poor study habits. This is a huge issue that led me to disastrous results earlier in life (when working at an investment bank, when messing up in undergrad and high school).

What helped me turn things around in law school is what someone said just above, which is that law school masked the weaknesses. Just attending class and listening in class and then a mad push at exams worked, because unlike in every other phase of my education, there were 0 homework assignments and it only depended on one final push.

That said, I feel like I have been performing much worse since joining biglaw (I'm a junior associate in litigation). I simply cannot focus on the boring minutiae as well as many of my peers. I feel huge imposter syndrome and have messed up multiple assignments that I feel like people judge me for. It's hard to know what to do.

I don't take medication, but do see a therapist and do various lifestyle changes. My success in law school made me think I don't need medication, but struggles at the firm have me rethining that stance.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 9:56 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:38 am
As an incoming student at HYS with ADHD I really relate to this. I was diagnosed when I was six and have been on medications since then, and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. But I'm still worried about my performance in LS. I've always been a procrastinator, but I was always intelligent enough to still get amazing grades in both my STEM and social science majors. I know for a fact that procrastination is a recipe for disaster in law school, so I'm wondering if any of you have any tips for staying motivated and maintaining a steady work schedule throughout 1L.

My hope is that my fear of abject failure and not getting the firms I want will motivate me to put in a lot of sustained effort, but as we all know this isn't a guarantee. Fear of not getting into a top school definitely motivated me while studying for the LSAT, but that was over the course of a relatively short period of time (month long Christmas break). I worked like a dog for that entire time and it paid off in the end, but I'm worried that no matter what I do I'll fall back into my old ways and under-perform this year.

Also, does anyone have experiences with accommodations in LS for ADHD? I never sought them out in HS/College because of pride, but I'm worried about the sensory overload of sitting in a room with a bunch of other students that are typing furiously on the computer. Obviously doesn't apply now given COVID, but has anyone requested to take exams in a separate room to eliminate sensory distractions? I could also get extra time (I think) but I really don't want to deal with the stigma associated with students who get time accommodations. I got to HYS on my own, and I sure as hell don't want anyone to think otherwise.
I also went to HYS, and it was super unpleasant tbh. I did not know that I had ADHD at the time, and it felt like three years of feeling panicky about being surrounded by studious overachievers but still not being able to get myself to do anything.

As to your specific questions, I didn’t ever really manage a “steady” work schedule, but honestly my best advice is to lean into the “fear of failure” motivator. This is the only thing that kept me semi on task in class, only thing that helped me sometimes get through the reading for class, etc. I didn’t get a ton out of the classes or reading but it probably would have been better if I had been on meds at the time. The KEY for me (and it’s not even close) was getting good outlines and as many practice exams as possible and then working like CRAZY to internalize all of the info in them during the few weeks before exams.

You’ll have to experiment to figure out works for you, but my process was usually to find the best outlines of the set and then try to combine them all into my own brand new outline that I started from scratch. Once I finished that, I would start doing practice exams. Usually all of this was BRUTAL at first because I had learned so little during the semester, but it worked if I kept at it. Flash cards were also good for classes with a lot of black letter law/cases to memorize - I usually made my own based on my outline. Exam grading also gets way easier after 1L which helps.

Things that did not help me at all (YMMV):
- studying with other people (including collaborative outlines): stressful and no benefit, with the one exception being teaching a subject to another person, which did help. 1Ls are mostly just super stressful to be around, though.

- outlining throughout the semester: maybe it would’ve been different if I had been on medication, but these outlines were always a total waste of time for me because I didn’t even understand what I was writing about at the time.

- taking notes in class: always messy and I find it hard to listen and take notes at the same time. Taking zero notes is a risk, though - I still did it most of the time in 1L, I just see looking back that it was a waste of time for me personally. Not bringing my laptop to class was good, but guess that’s moot bc pandemic.

Re: accommodations, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea of asking for extra time - I guess I felt like if I could get into a good law school without stuff like that, maybe it wasn’t justified (in my specific case, I totally think there are people for whom they are likely justified). Re: taking exams in another room, I recall people having arrangements like that. I barely noticed and wouldn’t be overly concerned about anyone else noticing either (or caring, for that matter). Lots of people used earplugs and stuff like that, so it wouldn’t be much beyond that. I usually end up super in the zone in exam environments so I didn’t bother with head phones - the intense stress and time pressure was enough to get me to focus.
This is anon quoted above. Thanks so much for the candid advice. Interesting how many people on this thread were diagnosed later in life, especially considering how rampant the over-diagnosis of our condition is. Also evidence that, contrary to many findings, you do not outgrow ADHD.

Good to know that fear of failure was able to keep you on track. I have GAD in addition to ADHD so hopefully I can harness my pathological fear of failure to stay motivated during 1L.

I anticipate that my study strategy is going to mirror yours closely, (I've already read Getting To Maybe and want to start practicing the mechanics of law school exam taking as quickly as possible) but I'll still give reading the casebooks and assembling my own outline the old college try.

I also struggle with the mechanics of note-taking in class. My handwriting is garbage, and like you I find it very difficult to listen and write at the same time. My goal is to take lighter notes in class that focus primarily on the views of my profs on specific cases/doctrines along with any policy questions/themes that pop up consistently. Is that a good approach?

Also dreading the Zoom lectures. I honestly feel cheated in a way because the Socratic Method is probably the most effective mode of instruction for people with ADHD. Fear of getting called on unprepared keeps me accountable, and the active nature of the instruction helps with engagement. I have a hunch that Socratic teaching via Zoom is going to be far less engaging than it would be in person, so I think I'm going to install some website blockers on my laptop to help mitigate distractions.

Also good to know that at least one of HYS allows accommodated testing environments and that the chance of people noticing your absence in the exam room is low.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:27 am

This is the former HYS anon from above.

Re: notes, yeah, that’s probably the only approach that would have actually been even slightly helpful for me. In practice, I usually went back and forth between reading the Internet the entire class and taking in nothing and taking transcription-style notes, again internalizing nothing but feeling marginally less nervous about it because I could theoretically come back to the notes later (spoiler: I didn’t).

My one caveat to the notes point is that it’s definitely worth trying to figure out in advance whether there are good outlines/past exams for your class. If you have a visiting prof or one who otherwise doesn’t have stuff available for some reason, I would take more notes. When I was in that position, I still would get basically nothing out of the note-taking process during the semester, but I would use the notes at the end of the semester to do my own outline completely from scratch (the WORST). Oh, and definitely always take notes on really recent cases that won’t be in the outlines.

One other thing I remembered that helped me - I’m not at all artsy, but towards the end of law school (aka too late) I realized that it was easier for me to do boring studying tasks if I made a point of trying to hand-write my case notes (or short topical outlines etc) very neatly, and using colored pens or highlighters to make them look eye-catching and interesting. Now that I’m writing this out, I realize that it makes me sound like an elementary school student, but it feels similar to how I can’t stand watching tv if I can’t be doing something else at the same time - regular studying/outlining cases wasn’t engaging enough, but trying to study with the tv on in the background or whatever was too much distraction. The notes thing was usually an okay balance. Also, thinking about how to organize the material in an aesthetically pleasing and useful way forced me to actually think about what the cases/outlines were saying.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:39 am

(OP) One of my most frustrating/problematic issues goes as follows:

(1) I get assigned an urgent and important task (or just an important task that I procrastinate on until it’s urgent).

(2) The urgent/important task feels too overwhelming to face. I procrastinate.

(3) While a rational person would at least do some lower priority work while they’re procrastinating to avoid falling even further behind, my brain’s reaction is: “you MUST do the urgent/important task and it is completely unjustifiable to work on anything else.” So, not only do I not do the most important work, I also unnecessarily drop the ball on other work.

This is a CONSTANT problem for me, especially because once I realize I’m later than I should be on something, I start dreading the awkwardness of explaining why I’m so late, which makes the task feel overwhelming, which means I continue not doing it, except that now also not doing my other work either. I do this even with leisure activities - when I know I should be working, I don’t feel like I can let myself do a full-on fun activity (even a quick one!) because it’s “not allowed until I finish the important task.” Instead, I fall back on unsatisfying time wasters like reading Twitter, because it doesn’t feel like I’m breaking the rules - “I’m just checking my phone [for two hours] before I start.”

Anyway, I’m trying to do better at constantly reminding myself how much worse I’ll feel if I compound my dropped balls with more dropped balls, but any other tips (or commiseration) very welcome.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:55 am

Have had ADHD since childhood and have been on many types of meds. I did not take any meds during HS (where I did poorly), nor throughout my time at a T14 where I was about median (pretty much stopped going to class entirely after I got my job before OCI my 1L summer).
Think I went to class like 6 times altogether my 3L year. Don't really regret it because I don't learn anything through lecture. Never have learned this way and really hate having to sit in a confined chair for hours on end just trying to listen to someone speak, especially about subjects I couldn't care less about and will have no impact on my future (it's hard to remember classes that were even relevant after I took the final!).

Decided to try meds again for bar prep. I was studying for about a month without them and was having trouble (I don't think in a way any different than most have trouble studying for the bar, though). Figured id go on them because why not? Most important test I'll ever take, might as well do everything I can. Started with Adderall. And I knew how that would go. Such a bad drug. So rough and you feel drugged out on it. Switched to Vyvanse and liked it much much better. Didn't feel like a zombie after 7pm and didn't feel like a drugged up weirdo talking to people while it was working. I really recommend this to people having med issues.

But, my views haven't changed. Meds suck and I really don't want to start taking them during practice. They become such a crutch and are so damn hard on your body and mind. They simply aren't healthy. It's a total Faustian deal: sell your evening/ability to laugh/feel emotion during the day for productivity. The increase in resting heart rate by 15 to 20 bpms isn't good. Adderall is the worst though.

Anyways, ADHD sucks but I've worked around it. I'm hoping I can stay ok during practice. Seems like corporate work relies on a lot of attention to fine details which I'll have to improve upon.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:24 am

So interesting to read other people’s takes on medication - I don’t doubt anyone’s experiences at ALL, but I have so few of the issues that people often describe, especially the personality problems. Other than that it probably makes it easier for me to slow down and only be a verbal disaster 65% of the time instead of 95%, I really don’t notice any difference in my emotions/demeanor.

Re: specific meds, I’m on Mydayis and would highly recommend it (in the sense that I would recommend discussing it with a doctor, of course). Probably wouldn’t work for the previous poster because it’s basically 3x adderall IR in one pill, but it has really helped with what was previously a recurring problem of procrastinating on taking my next dose and then losing like 3 hours in the middle of every day.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:39 am
(OP) One of my most frustrating/problematic issues goes as follows:

(1) I get assigned an urgent and important task (or just an important task that I procrastinate on until it’s urgent).

(2) The urgent/important task feels too overwhelming to face. I procrastinate.

(3) While a rational person would at least do some lower priority work while they’re procrastinating to avoid falling even further behind, my brain’s reaction is: “you MUST do the urgent/important task and it is completely unjustifiable to work on anything else.” So, not only do I not do the most important work, I also unnecessarily drop the ball on other work.

This is a CONSTANT problem for me, especially because once I realize I’m later than I should be on something, I start dreading the awkwardness of explaining why I’m so late, which makes the task feel overwhelming, which means I continue not doing it, except that now also not doing my other work either. I do this even with leisure activities - when I know I should be working, I don’t feel like I can let myself do a full-on fun activity (even a quick one!) because it’s “not allowed until I finish the important task.” Instead, I fall back on unsatisfying time wasters like reading Twitter, because it doesn’t feel like I’m breaking the rules - “I’m just checking my phone [for two hours] before I start.”

Anyway, I’m trying to do better at constantly reminding myself how much worse I’ll feel if I compound my dropped balls with more dropped balls, but any other tips (or commiseration) very welcome.
Previously posted ITT as biglaw senior anon. To address some of the recent posts, I was ~top 10% at HYS. Law school is perfect for those with ADHD, and biglaw is the exact opposite. It turns from one big crunch twice a year to a constant, slow slog that for a lot of reasons is particularly bad for those with ADHD, even more so than a normal job.

To address the quote, I have had the same problem for a while, especially after the first couple of years in biglaw ended (once the fear of losing it all slowly dissipated). I'm sorry I have no tips, just commiseration. Too often, I have literally sat around all day doing nothing (including nothing fun or productively non-work related), just wasting time on websites - websites that I find horribly dry when not procrastinating - only to see that it's 6 pm and I've made 1.5 hours of mediocre progress. I'd add that the background anxiety of falling behind on hours for a given month/year doesn't help and often increases that noise preventing further progress. For some reason my brain tends to flip the switch late at night, assuming I don't get unbearably tired, and I can just productively crank through work for a long while. The problem is the lifestyle of sitting at work for 12 hours only to start at 9 pm with really productive time isn't sustainable, nor does it lend itself to billing 2000+ hours in a year. To some extent, just adopting a mindstyle of "do everything right away, no matter how long it takes, no matter how unimportant" solves the problem at the work level, but you have to be willing to sacrifice an unfortunate amount of social/family time for that to work long term.

Doing really good work will keep you in good graces for longer than you'd expect, at least for some partners, even if you fall behind now and then. It's one thing to be late, and it's another to be late and bad; perfect work will give you a lot of leeway even if in the end the imperfect grinders are the preferred associates (and service partners). I consistently get top of my class reviews on work product and OK reviews on process. After spending more than half a decade doing this, I increasingly think that it's just an incompatibility with my brain type, and not one worth medicating myself to death for (assuming that the medication even worked long term, which I haven't found to be the case). The biglaw system inherently rewards working long and hard over working quick and efficiently, and IMO harnessing the complete intellectual capacity of those with ADHD requires aligning the job with the brain. That might be plaintiffs side, it might be in-house, but it probably isn't biglaw, at least in 2020 with 2000+ hour requirements and 10+ year partnership tracks. Just my 2 cents.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:24 am

I am the T14 that almost got straight As first semester in 1L before bailing. I edited in a signature in my older posts.
-ADHDImpostorAnon1

The previous post sums up my thoughts on the topic better than I could. This part especially is the same conclusion I came to:

"After spending more than half a decade doing this, I increasingly think that it's just an incompatibility with my brain type, and not one worth medicating myself to death for (assuming that the medication even worked long term, which I haven't found to be the case). The biglaw system inherently rewards working long and hard over working quick and efficiently, and IMO harnessing the complete intellectual capacity of those with ADHD requires aligning the job with the brain. That might be plaintiffs side, it might be in-house, but it probably isn't biglaw, at least in 2020 with 2000+ hour requirements and 10+ year partnership tracks. Just my 2 cents."

I came to the same conclusion but with much less time. That's why I just left.

The only thing I have to add is leaving biglaw, despite my conviction that it is absolutely the right move for me, was something that my family and wife were very strongly against. The social stigma on ADHD, or really just lack of understanding it as a disability instead of laziness, is why this thread is basically all anon.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 9:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:39 am
(OP) One of my most frustrating/problematic issues goes as follows:

(1) I get assigned an urgent and important task (or just an important task that I procrastinate on until it’s urgent).

(2) The urgent/important task feels too overwhelming to face. I procrastinate.

(3) While a rational person would at least do some lower priority work while they’re procrastinating to avoid falling even further behind, my brain’s reaction is: “you MUST do the urgent/important task and it is completely unjustifiable to work on anything else.” So, not only do I not do the most important work, I also unnecessarily drop the ball on other work.

This is a CONSTANT problem for me, especially because once I realize I’m later than I should be on something, I start dreading the awkwardness of explaining why I’m so late, which makes the task feel overwhelming, which means I continue not doing it, except that now also not doing my other work either. I do this even with leisure activities - when I know I should be working, I don’t feel like I can let myself do a full-on fun activity (even a quick one!) because it’s “not allowed until I finish the important task.” Instead, I fall back on unsatisfying time wasters like reading Twitter, because it doesn’t feel like I’m breaking the rules - “I’m just checking my phone [for two hours] before I start.”

Anyway, I’m trying to do better at constantly reminding myself how much worse I’ll feel if I compound my dropped balls with more dropped balls, but any other tips (or commiseration) very welcome.
Holy shit this is me. And I've never been diagnosed with ADHD - I've always chalked it up to general anxiety issues. I do try, really consciously, to tell myself "even if you're not going to do X, you can get Y and Z done," and sometimes it works, but sometimes my brain can't focus on anything besides BUT YOU SHOULD BE DOING X RIGHT NOW/X IS OVERWHELMING AND BAD AND I CAN'T DO X RIGHT NOW.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 2:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 9:22 am
Holy shit this is me. And I've never been diagnosed with ADHD - I've always chalked it up to general anxiety issues. I do try, really consciously, to tell myself "even if you're not going to do X, you can get Y and Z done," and sometimes it works, but sometimes my brain can't focus on anything besides BUT YOU SHOULD BE DOING X RIGHT NOW/X IS OVERWHELMING AND BAD AND I CAN'T DO X RIGHT NOW.

Yep. Everyone always told me I was just anxious (including my GP when I first raised the ADHD possibility to her), but although I am a worrier, it never felt like the right description of the problem to me. I mentioned this to my then-psychiatrist at my first appointment and she was like “well, yeah, people with ADHD usually are anxious, and with good reason - they’re not doing any of the things they’re supposed to be doing” and I was like YES THAT’S EXACTLY IT.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:25 pm

+1.

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Re: ADHD Lawyers - Share Your Tips

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:59 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:39 am
(OP) One of my most frustrating/problematic issues goes as follows:

(1) I get assigned an urgent and important task (or just an important task that I procrastinate on until it’s urgent).

(2) The urgent/important task feels too overwhelming to face. I procrastinate.

(3) While a rational person would at least do some lower priority work while they’re procrastinating to avoid falling even further behind, my brain’s reaction is: “you MUST do the urgent/important task and it is completely unjustifiable to work on anything else.” So, not only do I not do the most important work, I also unnecessarily drop the ball on other work.

This is a CONSTANT problem for me, especially because once I realize I’m later than I should be on something, I start dreading the awkwardness of explaining why I’m so late, which makes the task feel overwhelming, which means I continue not doing it, except that now also not doing my other work either. I do this even with leisure activities - when I know I should be working, I don’t feel like I can let myself do a full-on fun activity (even a quick one!) because it’s “not allowed until I finish the important task.” Instead, I fall back on unsatisfying time wasters like reading Twitter, because it doesn’t feel like I’m breaking the rules - “I’m just checking my phone [for two hours] before I start.”

Anyway, I’m trying to do better at constantly reminding myself how much worse I’ll feel if I compound my dropped balls with more dropped balls, but any other tips (or commiseration) very welcome.
Previously posted ITT as biglaw senior anon. To address some of the recent posts, I was ~top 10% at HYS. Law school is perfect for those with ADHD, and biglaw is the exact opposite. It turns from one big crunch twice a year to a constant, slow slog that for a lot of reasons is particularly bad for those with ADHD, even more so than a normal job.

To address the quote, I have had the same problem for a while, especially after the first couple of years in biglaw ended (once the fear of losing it all slowly dissipated). I'm sorry I have no tips, just commiseration. Too often, I have literally sat around all day doing nothing (including nothing fun or productively non-work related), just wasting time on websites - websites that I find horribly dry when not procrastinating - only to see that it's 6 pm and I've made 1.5 hours of mediocre progress. I'd add that the background anxiety of falling behind on hours for a given month/year doesn't help and often increases that noise preventing further progress. For some reason my brain tends to flip the switch late at night, assuming I don't get unbearably tired, and I can just productively crank through work for a long while. The problem is the lifestyle of sitting at work for 12 hours only to start at 9 pm with really productive time isn't sustainable, nor does it lend itself to billing 2000+ hours in a year. To some extent, just adopting a mindstyle of "do everything right away, no matter how long it takes, no matter how unimportant" solves the problem at the work level, but you have to be willing to sacrifice an unfortunate amount of social/family time for that to work long term.

Doing really good work will keep you in good graces for longer than you'd expect, at least for some partners, even if you fall behind now and then. It's one thing to be late, and it's another to be late and bad; perfect work will give you a lot of leeway even if in the end the imperfect grinders are the preferred associates (and service partners). I consistently get top of my class reviews on work product and OK reviews on process. After spending more than half a decade doing this, I increasingly think that it's just an incompatibility with my brain type, and not one worth medicating myself to death for (assuming that the medication even worked long term, which I haven't found to be the case). The biglaw system inherently rewards working long and hard over working quick and efficiently, and IMO harnessing the complete intellectual capacity of those with ADHD requires aligning the job with the brain. That might be plaintiffs side, it might be in-house, but it probably isn't biglaw, at least in 2020 with 2000+ hour requirements and 10+ year partnership tracks. Just my 2 cents.
I agree here completely. With the meds in law school, it was a 180 for me. I figured out how to B+/A- my way through classes 2L and 3L with just outlines from top students ahead of me, never went to class, and was able to network and intern and work part-time, so I was stimulated all the time. Big law with the meds destroyed my soul and probably took a year off my life. I wasn't even taking that much adderall, about 10 mgs per day rather than the 20mgs I was prescribed, but the hours, lack of sleep, constant humming of emails and calls, it was just too much and after billing 300 hours one month my first year, I literally thew my adderall in the trash and said never again. It's been 4 years now and I'm still here unfortunately. Just surviving trying to make the jump in-house to something where it can be more compatible with my personality. I definitely can crush even without meds, which is why I've lasted so long in an intense practice, but working all the time, being on call, constant stress, weekends without a day off. It's so depressing and getting harder and harder to do without a literal gun to my head.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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