Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
I was very open about my disability. I was provided with extra time during assessments and a laptop for any written assessments I was doing.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
I have always been interested in a career in law. Due to my disability it was important for me to apply for jobs at firms that had clear commitments to diversity. I found Macfarlanes through this organisation, which was called Great With Disability at the time.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I make sure that key people I am working with are aware of my epilepsy and other medical conditions. I make sure to take breaks when I need them and will always tell someone if I think I am having a ‘bad day’ with my epilepsy. I have specialist equipment for my desk to help with my cerebral palsy – something the firm organised as soon as I started working. I have a couple of partners at the firm who I don’t directly work with, but who I can contact with any concerns I may have about my disability and work.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
My firm’s approach is very open and encouraging. They have been very involved with making sure my needs are catered for right from the application process through to working full time. The firm has informed relevant people of my disabilities when I didn’t want to have to do this myself (sometimes face to face explanations to so many people can take up too much time!). They have arranged initial and follow-up workstation assessments for me and provided specialist equipment unique to helping my disability. Due to the culture at the firm, I feel like I am able to discuss any issues I may be having with ease and I’m not afraid I will not be supported should I mention I am having issues with a disability.
Tell us about a personal strength or a valuable plus which you have developed, as a result of your disability. How has it helped you in your career?
A personal strength I have developed as a result of my disability is my mental strength to persevere. Throughout my life I have been diagnosed with numerous disabilities and many different illnesses. I have always had to ‘bounce back’ from these and if they ever upset me, I would allow myself to be upset before coming up with some sort of action plan to move forward. I’ve always been proud of my ability to stay calm and work out what to do next when something ‘goes wrong’ and I think I have transferred this into my career in law because things do go wrong and you need to be able to deal with that stress and still produce a great piece of work for the client.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Always ask the firm how it currently supports those with disabilities and what help they might be able to give you were you to work there. Be aware of how your disability affects you and don’t be afraid to ask for help or adjustments. It is really important to be open about your disability so the firm can provide you with any support you may need.