How did you get started in your career?
I studied music and law, and started working in at a music publisher's but the work was badly paid and boring, not for me. After that I "fell into" the law, and found I liked it, both the work itself and the people doing it.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or "ME"). Some people with this condition get tired from mental exertion, even from reading or watching TV, but fortunately for me it's just a physical thing - a matter of keeping a lid on my overall level of physical activity. I drive into work rather than taking public transport, and work from home two days a week. When I have a big commitment at work (say a week-long training course I'm giving), I stay overnight in London. When I'm in the office, I have a power chair, so I don't have to push myself around. With all these measures I can cope pretty well.
How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Hogan Lovells has been very supportive. They provide me with a parking space, allow me to start work late (so I can avoid travel during the rush hour) and let me use the sleeping pods. The most difficult time was at the beginning of the illness, when I had to work part time and (for about a year) entirely from home. That meant changing my role in the firm from working directly for clients to doing more behind-the-scenes role like training and research.
How would you describe the culture at Hogan Lovells?
We do as much as we can to foster diversity. I'm involved in our "disability and wellness network", which covers one aspect of diversity. But we manage to cover a lot of ground in the talks and other events we put on, and to focus on the positive as well as the negative aspects of health and disability.
What advice or top tips would you offer?
You have to be realistic about your limits. Some environments are very high pressure, and you won't be doing yourself or your employer any favours by trying to cope with demands that are beyond your limits. That said, it is amazing what technological and other adaptations can be arranged to make difficult things possible especially as technology is changing fast. So in a big organisation especially, I would encourage you to explore all the options with your (actual or potential) employers rather than giving up.