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Wellness & Beyond

Recognizing the Unique Strengths & Challenges of Lawyers With ADHD

October 27, 2023

By Sharon Greenbaum, LICSW


October is National ADHD Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Despite the growing understanding of ADHD, misperceptions and a significant stigma still exist. Consequently, attorneys with the condition may be reluctant to seek necessary treatment, support, or accommodations. National ADHD Awareness Month offers an opportunity for everyone in the legal profession to learn, educate, and advocate.


In a 2016 ABA study on lawyer well-being, 12.5 percent of lawyers reported having ADHD, compared to 4 to 8 percent of adults generally. With lawyers reporting roughly double the rate of ADHD as the general adult population, it’s important to understand the ADHD brain and how it can work for attorneys, not against them.

Those dealing with ADHD have a range of experiences, but many encounter difficulty concentrating at times, become overly focused on specific things at other times, struggle with time blindness, and must find strategies to stay organized. These challenges have a real effect on professional functioning, personal relationships, and emotional well-being.

However, while most people view ADHD as a hurdle to overcome, there are also many who look to the advantages of ADHD as tools for success. Research shows that individuals with ADHD tend to have more creativity, which can lead to outside-the-box thinking. This ability proves invaluable for attorneys, given the constant need for problem-solving, multitasking, and agile thinking. Also, lawyers with ADHD can excel under pressure by hyper focusing, allowing them to perform well in time-sensitive and chaotic situations.


The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program successfully facilitated a six-week virtual ADHD psychoeducation group in February 2024. During these sessions, LAP clinicians addressed how to identify and develop behavioral skills and strategies to navigate ADHD in the workplace. For more information on current ADHD programming and support please reach out: [email protected].


Being a lawyer is a challenging and rewarding job, but the heavy workload and dependence on details can at times make it feel very challenging for someone with ADHD. It is important for neurotypical lawyers to understand ADHD and support their colleagues with the condition.

ADHD coach Sandy Maynard explains in ADDittude, “Many with ADHD manage to make it through law school despite weak executive function, but crumble when they are hit with a load of casework in their first year at a firm. Instead of studying, writing papers, and taking tests, the new lawyer has to research and write lots of documents, many of which have a hard deadline. Add to that the tasks of keeping track of billable hours, filling out expense reports, and scheduling time for meetings, and it is overwhelming.”

However, by embracing creativity, using technology, developing organizational hacks, and seeking out accommodations, lawyers with ADHD can excel and advocate for themselves.

Those in supervisory positions need to understand and advocate for their employees as well. For example, it's important to convey to teams that individuals with ADHD might exhibit fidgeting behavior while remaining fully engaged and attentive. Managers can champion their employees with ADHD by establishing quiet work environments, offering flexible work hours, implementing incremental deadlines rather than extensive long-term ones, and providing clear guidance on processes and tasks.

In summary, in advocating for lawyers with ADHD, it is essential to recognize the unique strengths and challenges, allowing them to thrive in their legal careers and contribute to a more diverse profession.

To learn more about ADHD, or if you are struggling or want to support someone with ADHD, please reach out to LAP at [email protected]

Sharon GreenbaumLICSW, is a senior counselor with the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program.