I am a Solicitor Apprentice currently working in the corporate finance team at Stephenson Harwood. I completed my A-levels and worked in an in-house legal team for a year before starting my apprenticeship.
When I was fifteen, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. My dyslexia particularly impacts my processing speed and memory which means that my reading efficiency and production of written work is slower than average. Accepting my diagnosis was a challenge until I realised that, despite the label of having a learning “difficulty”, dyslexic minds also have strengths that others do not have. For example, my dyslexia means that I am a creative problem-solver which helps me to excel in my job.
Furthermore, in part due to my dyslexia, I developed a very high work ethic and good time management skills. I developed these skills to factor in the extra time that it would take me to complete the same task as others, and I now utilise these skills in my legal career.
Being open about my neurodiversity has allowed me to think about the different characteristics people associate with dyslexia, including mistaken perceptions. There is no one type of dyslexic person, and it can affect each person differently. For example, spelling is not something that I struggle with even though many other people with dyslexia experience this.
I am proudly dyslexic and was very open about my disability throughout my solicitor apprentice application. My transparency enabled me to get additional time in elements of the recruitment process as well as exams that I take as part of my apprenticeship. It has also enabled me to get workplace adjustments for my day-to-day work, such as text-to-speech software on my laptop.
I would encourage people to communicate with colleagues about the support you need and discuss what options are available to you. My disability doesn’t hold me back. Instead, it pushes me harder throughout my career.