I am an associate in the dispute resolution team at Herbert Smith Freehills and am a committee member of the firm’s Ability Network, which aims to raise awareness of disability and make the firm more disability confident.
“My job requires resilience, commitment and organisation, and MyPlus is that these are skills that I developed to manage my disability.” – Michael Barron
When I was fifteen, I contracted salmonella, septicaemia and bacterial meningitis, which left me with chronic fatigue, muscular pain and hyperacusis (severe sensitivity to pitches and volume of noise). I was so unwell that I was unable to return to school that year and ended up taking my GCSEs at home.
When I was discharged from hospital I was only able to concentrate sufficiently to read basic “Mr Men” books. I had to use initiative to find ways to focus and build up my strength, working my way through various simple books until I was ready to return to academic material. As a result, I am very logical and methodical in my work, which served me well through my further studies and throughout my career.
Due to the fatiguing nature of my illness, I had to develop my time management skills to study in the moments when I was feeling at my best and rest in the moments that I was not. I now utilise these skills in my career to meet deadlines and balance the competing pressures on my time.
I was very open about my disability when applying for jobs and this helped with putting in place appropriate adjustments for my assessment centre and interview and for my career more generally.
I have never let my disability hold me back – I have viewed it as a platform to develop myself and demonstrate my skills.