Law Firms must become Neurodiverse friendly because:

  •  it’s the right thing to do, and
  • Gen Z demands it.

First, a neurodiverse friendly firm culture creates a positive work culture, increases retention, assists recruitment and attracts clients.

Second, Gen Z expects it. Gen Z is the most diverse generation ever. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z recognizes and values its neurodiversity and expects its employers to do the same. Recently, I had a conversation with Jeff Vargas , a recognized expert on the impact of different generations in the workplace. We were discussing how younger workers (late Millennials and Gen Z) were more aware of neurodiversity and had expectations that their employers would support their neurodiversity. These are some of our thoughts.

Looking at the generations currently in the workplace, we noted that each had experienced ADHD differently.

Baby Boomers:

When early Baby Boomers sought a medical diagnosis for a child struggling in school, the experts told them that their children had “minimal brain dysfunction.” This left them thinking their child had brain damage or would never be normal. As the research progressed, things improved for later Boomers.  The nomenclature had changed, and their children had ADD or ADHD, a treatable disorder. Medical professionals assured the Boomer parents that Ritalin would make things better, and that their children would outgrow the condition (they are still waiting). However, schools made few, if any, accommodations  for students with ADHD. The stigma was great. Any Boomer parents brave enough to get a diagnosis for themselves, hid it.  Consequently, they masked because they had been told that they should have outgrown those challenges. They were ashamed to admit that they were still experiencing ADHD challenges.

Gen X:

By the time, Gen X parents consulted medical professionals for their children,  the diagnosis has changed. Their child had ADD/ADHD/or Hybrid ADHD. Extended release medications were available. Schools were beginning to make a few accommodations like extended time on tests, and teachers were seating their students with ADD/ADHD in the front of the room. ADHD coaching was rare. As time passed, Gen X parents, particularly menopausal women, were more likely to seek diagnosis.  Unfortunately, few sought workplace accommodations.


The Millennial generation was more knowledgeable about ADHD. They knew that it was not something to be outgrown and that medication alone was not enough. Importantly, Millennials understood that a more wholistic approach was necessary and embraced exercise, dietary modifications, mediation/yoga and coaching or cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to their medication. However, older Millennials prefer not to disclose their ADHD due to fear of stigma or that their employers would use it as an excuse to terminate them. Instead, they often soldier on alone and unsupported until they see their younger colleagues disclosing and getting accommodations.

Gen Z:

Gen Z grew up with their ADHD. They embrace their creativity, intuition, hyperfocus and justice sensitivity and expect others to do so as well. Importantly,  members of Gen Z know that they can succeed in the right environment. By that, I mean an environment that will provide them with the time they need to get adequate sleep, eat healthy, practice yoga, and exercise.  In addition, they want to know that the firm insurance covers their ADHD meds and other supports including coaching. Gen Z workers seek out ADHD coaching and want their employer to pay for it. Finally, they know they need work/life balance and often want to know what the firm will do to ensure that is a reality.

Members of Gen Z are very likely to walk into a job interview disclosing that they have ADHD and asking the interviewer what programs the firm has to ensure their success. Things that they may ask about include:

  • business practices that support neurodiverse workers;
  • a meaningful wellness program;
  •  availability of remote or hybrid work schedules;
  • work time flexibility;
  • an active neurodiverse affinity group;
  • mentorship program with mentors trained in neurodiversity;
  • non-traditional career paths; or
  • availability of  ADHD certified coaches in your firm coaching program.

How you answer those questions could impact your ability to recruit top candidates.

Impact of Gen Z on the Workplace

Interestingly, as Gen Z enters the workforce, requesting and receiving the accommodations they need, the older generations (Gen X and Millennials) are taking note.  Older workers are realizing how much more productive and fulfilled they would be with the same accommodations. I am often asked by law firm managers, if we educate our staff about ADHD, set up affinity groups and provide accommodations, won’t we have a flood of people claiming to have ADHD? Maybe. In 2016, the ABA noted that 12.5% of lawyers it surveyed admitted to an ADHD diagnosis.  At the same time, law firms were reporting that only 2% of their lawyers admitted to an ADHD diagnosis. Remove the stigma, and people will come forward.

A Neurodiverse Friendly Workplace is Good for Everyone

Another compelling reason why your law firm should become neurodiverse friendly, is that the policies and practices that neurodiverse employees need will benefit everyone.  When ADHD is managed well, employees become more productive and resilient. Additionally, most ADHD accommodations are not expensive and actually benefit everyone. On the other hand, the costs (both human and business) related to untreated ADHD are enormous. Statistics show that people with unmanaged ADHD are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide than neurotypicals and 3 times more likely to engage in substance abuse. In addition, about 30% of people with ADHD are likely to suffer from anxiety and depression at some point in their lives. Can your firm afford to continue to duck this issue?

The coaches at Partner Up are lawyers and ADHD trained coaches. We coach lawyers with ADHD. We can help you make your law firm more neurodiverse friendly.  For example, we can make CLE presentations  on ADHD.  Our program has qualified for mental health CLE credits.  In addition, we can assist you in setting up a program that will help you become more neurodiverse friendly.
Just email


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This