In this episode of The Former Lawyer Podcast, Sarah Cottrell and Annie Little engaged in a candid conversation about ADHD and its prevalence among lawyers. They dive into an intriguing question that came in on social media after a previous ADHD conversation: Does being a lawyer give you ADHD?
The podcast revealed some compelling insights about ADHD in the legal profession and debunked misconceptions. If you’re a lawyer contemplating a career change, this blog post is for you. We’ll break down the essential points from the podcast and explore the real challenges lawyers with ADHD face, shedding light on why they may be considering leaving the law.
The Prevalence of ADHD Among Lawyers
Sarah and Annie opened their discussion by addressing the high incidence of ADHD among lawyers. It’s important to acknowledge that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that people are born with. While lawyering itself doesn’t cause ADHD, the complexities of the legal profession can exacerbate its symptoms, especially in high-achieving individuals.
Misconceptions About ADHD
One prevalent misconception is that ADHD is a transient condition or somehow optional. It’s vital to understand that ADHD cannot be outgrown or simply willed away. It’s a lifelong condition that requires appropriate support and management. Lawyers, whether neurotypical or with ADHD, should refrain from undermining the significance of ADHD.
The Impact of Motivation and Complexity for Lawyers with ADHD
The discussion touched upon the issue of motivation, highlighting the fundamental differences between neurotypical individuals and those with ADHD. Motivation for individuals with ADHD isn’t optional; it’s a prerequisite for the brain to initiate necessary chemical processes for task execution. Recognizing these differences is crucial for lawyers working alongside colleagues with ADHD, as it can lead to more empathy and effective collaboration.
Becoming a lawyer can introduce complexity to your life, which can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Many high-achieving individuals go undiagnosed for years because they can manage their symptoms. However, the demands of lawyering can expose the unique way in which their brains operate. It’s essential to remember that you were born with ADHD, and lawyering didn’t cause it, but it may have made it more challenging to manage.
ADHD Online Assessment
Annie shared her experience with ADHD Online, a platform that offers ADHD assessments. If you suspect you have ADHD, getting assessed can be the first step towards understanding your condition better. Use the coupon code “formerlawyer20” to receive a discount on the assessment.
If you’re a lawyer contemplating leaving the legal profession due to the challenges of ADHD, it’s crucial to understand that you’re not alone. ADHD is a legitimate condition, and it’s essential to acknowledge its impact and seek appropriate support. For lawyers with ADHD, knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles and that there are resources available to help can be a source of empowerment.
If you’re ready to make the step out of law, be sure to learn more about Collab Plus.
Sarah Cottrell: Hi, and welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Cottrell. I practiced law for 10 years and now I help unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs. On this show, I share advice and strategies for aspiring former lawyers, and interviews with former lawyers who have left the law behind to find careers and lives that they love.
This week, I asked Annie Little to join me back on the podcast to talk through a question that has come up in some of the social media around some previous episodes that we had on the podcast about ADHD. That question is: Does being a lawyer give you ADHD? We have lots of thoughts so today you get to hear them all.
We also talk in the episode about adhdonline.com which does assessments. If you're someone who's thinking about getting an assessment, you can go to ADHD Online and use the code formerlawyer20 and get $20 off the assessment. I don't get anything if you use the code. They just offered me the code because people who listen to the podcast had been reaching out and mentioning that they heard about it on Annie's episode, previous episode where she talked about being diagnosed with ADHD. Let's get to my conversation with Annie: Does lawyering cause ADHD?
If you're trying to figure out what it is that you should do that is not practicing law, you know you want out but you're not sure what's next, the Collab Plus One-on-One Program could be a great fit for you. In the Collab Plus One-on-One Program, you get access to my program for lawyers to help them figure out what it is they should do that isn't practicing law.
In the Collab, you get access to the community of lawyers on Circle, you also get access to The Former Lawyer Framework, which is a framework that I've created that you work through to help you figure out what it is that you want to be doing next. You get access to the monthly calls in the Collab. You also get access to the replay library. At this point, we have over 40 workshops and panels on various topics that are relevant for those of you who are thinking about doing something else that isn’t practicing law.
In addition to all of that, which is what you get access to as someone who enrolls in the Collab and you get access to that for the lifetime of the program, you also in the Collab Plus One-on-One Program get to meet with me for eight weekly calls, 45 minutes each, where we go through the work that you're doing following an action plan that I've created to help you in those eight weeks move through the framework.
Each call, there are certain things that you're going to do before the call so that when we get to the call, we can talk through it and brainstorm on the things you have questions about, work through issues that have come up, and also just for that accountability, which for many people is super important.
A lot of people really like to know when I show up to this call, I'm going to be expected to talk about X and Y, I'm going to be expected to have done X and Y, so this is a super helpful option for those of you who want that kind of accountability.
In addition, in the Collab Plus, there are a couple of paid assessments that I recommend in the framework, which for someone who just joins the basic Collab, those are things that they can go and purchase separately but as someone who works with me on Collab Plus, you get those included at no extra cost.
There are definitely some perks to being part of the Collab Plus Program and also, of course, there is the addition of the eight weeks of one-on-one calls with me to help you move through the framework. If you're interested in working with me one-on-one, the next step is for you to schedule a consult. You can go to formerlawyer.com/collab-plus. On that page, you'll see a button to book your consult. You can book your consult, you can also see all the information about how the Collab Plus Program works.
Once you book your consult, we'll talk and if it's a good fit, we'll work together and you will work through the framework in those eight weeks. Once more, formerlawyer.com/collab-plus. If you're interested in working with me one-on-one in the Collab Plus Program, that's the place to go.
Annie Little, welcome back to The Former Lawyer Podcast.
Annie Little: Ah, hello. Glad to be back.
Sarah Cottrell: This conversation is, at this point, quite overdue because I've been thinking about doing it since basically we released the previous episode where you and I talked about ADHD. The reason that I've been thinking about doing this episode is because some of the responses that I saw on social media and conversations that happened around the previous episode in lawyers with ADHD made me realize that this is a conversation that needs to happen.
First of all, I will say that the subject of ADHD is very important to me. I actually have many close friends who have ADHD. My husband has also been diagnosed with ADHD. As you and I talked about on the previous episode, there is a very high incidence rate of ADHD amongst lawyers.
However, there seems to be some confusion, shall we say, and the confusion that I noticed after the previous episode is that there seems to be, let's say, a misapprehension by some people about what ADHD is. The title of this episode is going to be something like “Does Lawyering Cause ADHD?” We're going to get into that but first, do you have anything that you would like to say before we go straight into answering that question?
Annie Little: Just a caveat that I'm coming in a little hot today because there's been some of this stuff on my LinkedIn action. I'm doing a lot of ADHD awareness stuff for October and I'm getting some of this stuff on my post that are like, “This is not what ADHD is,” and they're like, “It's interesting though, it could be this.” I'm like, “It's not.” So I’m coming in hot.
Sarah Cottrell: I like it. It's the best way. It's always the best way. So tell me, does lawyering cause ADHD?
Annie Little: It's a hard no. That's a hard no. Oh, my gosh, because by that logic, it'd be like, “Okay, then only lawyers have ADHD. People who aren't lawyers don't have ADHD.” It's that same faulty logic or misunderstanding of causality. I was a psych major, anyone who is in social sciences, you hear it all the time, correlation does not mean causation. It means we need to investigate more and see what that's about.
Through investigation, the general consensus among people who know what they're talking about is that there are just certain elements of the legal profession that are attractive to people that have an ADHD brain and an ADHD nervous system. One of those things that seems like a huge no-brainer is that those of us with ADHD have, I talk about them as being similar even though you can talk about them separately, but one is an intolerance for rules that are stupid, a pointless rule, or an unjust rule and a strong sense of justice.
You think about somebody like that, and for myself, this rings true because I went to law school to do public interest work and I did, that's what got me through law school. I talked to other people like, “Yeah, I went to go do public interest, but I didn’t. I got washed away with everyone else.” I'm like, “Oh, totally, the indoctrination is real.” But I'm super oppositional and my commitment to justice and fairness is the only thing that could get me to do the work and to deal with interviews and stuff.
That really strong sense of justice or confronting systems, regulations, and policies that are just fundamentally unfair, that's a big draw to a lot of us with ADHD. Just to be fair, that's not just an ADHD, that's a neurodivergent thing. That's something that people who are on the autism spectrum will site as well so I don't want to say, “Oh, this is just ADHD.” But that's one big thing.
Another thing is that the triggers that induce motivation and focus for people with ADHD are very different from the triggers that trigger motivation and focus in neurotypical people.
Just a little brief neuroscience lesson is that if you have an importance-based nervous system like a neurotypical person does, which is the overwhelming majority of the planet, you are motivated to do things and to focus when you know that they are things are important, or they're important to you or they're important to someone else or they are a priority for you or for someone else who's important to you, or a perceived reward, bent, or consequence.
Not an immediate reward or consequence but like, “Ah, if I do this, then that will happen. That makes sense because that's how our world is organized and that's even how our legal system is organized. Those triggers alone will not create the chemical cascade that an ADHD nervous system needs.
The triggers that we need to get to focus or to motivate ourselves to do something we don't want to do, the four main ones are urgency, which is a huge one for the legal field, urgency, challenge, something that's challenging, or something that we can gamify. Of course, I'm going to blank on what my four are even though I know them super well.
Urgency, challenge, interest, obviously, for an interest-based nervous system, and novelty. The more of those that are present, the easier it is for us to do something. Obviously, if it's something we're interested in, that means we're also going to like doing it. But it's not to say that we only do things we want to do.
In terms of how those relate to being a lawyer and why somebody with that type of nervous system might be attracted to the legal profession, urgency makes us very good under pressure. It's very interesting, a lot of us with ADHD, like me, I'll use me as an example, I'm just totally spaz, I can be all over the place, I lose my train of thought. That's just me.
But when there's an emergency or something crazy happens and everyone else is going nuts, all of a sudden I'm cool, I'm calm, I'm okay, and all of a sudden, I can prioritize. All of a sudden, I know what's important. I'm directing and doing stuff. That's a lot of what happens when you're a lawyer. I was a transactional lawyer and that stuff would happen like, “Oh, God, we got to close this transaction. Oh, this deal needs to close by this time.” “Well, that's not possible,” and it’s like, “That's kind of a challenge.” First of all, that's a challenge to get it closed.
Sarah Cottrell: Tell me more.
Annie Little: Yeah. That's a challenge. It's very urgent. Okay, I'm getting a little stressed but also “Okay, okay, I can do this.” That's another reason why we can push ourselves to the point of burnout so quickly too because even if it's stressful, it's like, “Ooh, but it's a challenge and it's urgent. I know how to perform.” My brain just kicks in and I'm able to do it.
Unlike novelty, I mean, come on, that's law. Nothing goes to the Supreme Court unless it's truly theoretically a novel issue, and that stuff's always really interesting. That's one of the many reasons that people with ADHD are attracted to the legal profession and why so many lawyers have ADHD. It's just this coincidence, this correlation, it's like, “Ah, I know this about myself and that's what I know about that job. This is going to be a good fit.”
I get these comments on some of my YouTube videos where they're like, “There's no way this woman has ADHD. There's no way that she went to law school. There's no way she was a valedictorian,” and it's like, “Okay,” and that presumes and it goes with this misconception that ADHD correlates negatively with intelligence.
The fact is that there's no correlation between ADHD and intelligence in any direction. There can be high achievers with ADHD and those are lawyers. Not all people with ADHD are high achievers. But obviously, the stuff that I talk about is directed toward lawyers so there is this presumption that these are high-achieving people with ADHD.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I think honestly for me, this question of does lawyering cause ADHD, hearing the answer to that in certain ways to me is less important for people who actually have ADHD and more, from my perspective, important for other lawyers who are going to be interacting with lawyers who have ADHD because I think this idea that lawyering might cause ADHD is used—and I'm not saying people are intentionally sitting down to do this—but it is used to dismiss the very real challenges that people who have ADHD and have an ADHD brain experience, particularly when we talk about the term motivation, I think as a neurotypical person, the term motivation it feels like something over which your brain has control in a certain sense.
Annie Little: Yeah, willpower kind of.
Sarah Cottrell: Right. I think for a neurotypical person, it feels like, “Yeah, it would be great for me to have motivation but I don't need it in order to do the things that need to get done.” So I think that being in that frame as someone who is neurotypical, I think it's very hard for people to understand that when we're talking about motivation in someone who has ADHD, it's not something that's optional, it is something that is required for the chemical processes that need to happen in order for them to actually do the things to happen.
I feel like I maybe lost the sentence there but I think it's really important for people who are neurotypical, for lawyers who are neurotypical to understand that the lawyers who they're working with who have ADHD, when they're talking about motivation, there's a difference between, “I'm just not feeling motivated to work today” in the way that you might say that if you're someone who's neurotypical versus someone with ADHD talking about motivation because it's literally about the ability for the brain to get into the gear that is required to accomplish the task. Is that making sense?
Annie Little: 100%. Oh, Sarah, you nailed it because I have two things to say about it. I want to say I have two things because I might forget one of them but I want to come back because there's one that I'll share that is the expert on ADHD Dr. Russell Barkley talks about and then I have an example from my time as a lawyer that illustrates it and shows how confusing it was to me.
Dr. Russell Barkley is the preeminent expert researcher, he's the neuropsychologist who's just done so many good things for ADHD, the world of ADHD. He's so lovely. Lots of good books, lots of lectures, he's great. Go check him out. He has his own website at russellbarkley.org.
But he describes this as we all know there are different parts of the brain, we don’t even know what they’re called, but there are different parts of the brain that handle different functions for us. He said that there’s a part of the brain that knows what to do.
This is the part of the brain that’s like, “Alright, looking at the to-do list. Next, I need to return this call.” So you’re like, “Alright, I’m going to return the call,” and a neurotypical person will be like, “I don't really feel like returning that call but I'm going to return the call.” Whereas in the ADHD brain, for me, I'm like, “Alright, I got to return this call. Let's do it. I don't really want to. I don't really feel like it and so I just sit here paralyzed. I need to make this phone call. Can't do it.”
Because there's a separate part of the brain that is responsible for the doing. There's one part that says, “Here's what I know needs to be done,” but then we need these little dopamine transmitters to carry that message to the other part of the brain that is in charge of execution, in charge of the doing.
The way I imagine this in my head is one part of my brain is screaming, “Just pick up the phone and dial,” and the other side of my brain is like, “La-la-la,” like fingers in the ears dancing around, “La-la-la,” and I'm just like, “Ugh.” I need that carrier pigeon of dopamine to go interrupt that side of the brain and be like, “Yo, we got to do this.” I was like, “Oh, well, we don't want to do that but I guess we can do it.” That's the difference and that is so amazing.
The way that this manifested for me and was always so confusing and it was absolutely horrifying when I learned how different I was from other people was like you know you have those days like you were saying, “Ah, I'm just not really motivated today,” so I would go to work and I would have some things to do, nothing particularly hard but I just couldn't get started.
I'd be talking to one of my friends and I'd say, “Oh, my God, I've billed nothing today,” and they'd be like, “Oh, my God me too.” No, they billed five hours when they said they billed nothing.” I literally billed nothing, zero, zero hours. I was like, “Wow.” That was just when I realized that people were actually billing when they said that they were not billing and I wasn't. I was like, “So that's a moral failing. So I'm a bad person. I have no willpower. What is wrong with me?”
That's the path that it goes down. I feel like that's what you were talking about as well that neurotypical lawyers aren't sitting down and thinking about weaponizing this but I think that it is used as a way of being like, “This person just can't hack it as a lawyer. Just can't cut it,” and it's like, “No, that's not the case at all. It's just we need some support in different ways.”
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I think especially in lawyering where so many people are under so much pressure and are frankly quite miserable, hence why this podcast exists, when you're in a situation that is psychologically difficult, you are much less likely to be able to extend empathy to other people.
So I think you have this situation where even if you're neurotypical, you are probably still struggling with a certain sense of motivation, wanting to do things, or prioritizing but the problem is that as someone who's neurotypical, it can be hard to see that your experience of that is different from the experience of someone with ADHD and that you are in an environment that incentivizes you to not understand or choose to understand that there are different differences between the experiences. Does that make sense?
Annie Little: It totally makes sense, especially because that discussion of empathy is so key because that's a huge part of the awareness behind ADHD stuff. But it also extends to the people with ADHD, especially people like me who didn't know that we had it and we have zero self-compassion, zero empathy for ourselves. Because like you're saying, I assumed I was neurotypical, I understand why if you're a neurotypical person, it's also a really sh*tty experience working as a lawyer in a lot of places.
When you're stressed and you're really struggling, it's hard to extend empathy, especially in circumstances that are hard to understand. Same goes when it's reflected back to yourself. I wouldn't extend that empathy to somebody else. I sure as sh*t wouldn't extend it to myself. It makes a lot of sense.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I also think another reason that I thought it was important to talk through this question of does lawyering cause ADHD is that I think sometimes when people raise this question, it implies, not always, but it often is implied that somehow ADHD is temporary and so I just wanted to make super clear for anyone out there who has any questions about ADHD and whether it's this--
Annie Little: Fleeting condition.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah, transient. For example, if you are experiencing depression, you can be experiencing depression and then at some future point, you can not be experiencing depression. ADHD is not like that. It is not a situation where you're like, “Oh, I have ADHD right now and at some future point, I no longer will have ADHD.”
In fact, for someone who has ADHD, because of the way that your brain and your nervous system works—and this is something that many lawyers who I work with who have ADHD experience—because part of how the ADHD brain works around not having the appropriate dopamine transmitters/receptors depending on the person's situation, having that cascade of cortisol and adrenaline that is what gets the activity going, the system degrades over time.
It becomes less effective because your nervous system, at a certain point, when it's just being buffeted constantly by adrenaline and cortisol becomes less sensitive to it. That's another piece that I think is really important when we're talking about people raising this question of whether lawyering itself somehow causes ADHD is that someone who has ADHD is never not going to have ADHD, which is not to say, “Oh, all is lost,” obviously, we already talked in this podcast about all sorts of things about what things that you can do, etc., etc.
But the point is not only are they always going to have ADHD but over time, they may actually require more support in order to be able to function at the level that they need and want to function at in the workplace and if there's this perception that, I don't know, ADHD is transitory or optional, that is going to lead to people not getting the support that they need.
Annie Little: Yeah, or even curable where it's like you got this accommodation, you got medication so you're good. I bring that up for anyone out there who has ADHD [on] things they do and thinking about medication, I didn't have this experience but a lot of my people that have ADHD had said that once they realized they had ADHD and they were going to try medication, and it was that they found a medication that worked relatively quickly, they were like, “Okay, ADHD gone. Problem solved,” which is just devastating because it lasts a few hours and at best, and even then, it's not like, “Gone, I don't have ADHD for four hours.”
It's like, “Okay, instead of 30 racing thoughts, I have 2. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night so even with meds, it's more like 4.” There are just so many variables and I love that because yeah, our needs change. Especially because novelty is sometimes employed as a trigger for us, when something's no longer novel, we got to try something else.
Then over our life cycle especially, this is true for men too but women are the stereotypical example of how our hormones really do fluctuate largely at different phases of our lives, our symptoms of ADHD, the severity of them will change. It's frustrating for everyone. It's frustrating for the people who support them, people they work with, and for themselves because it's like, “Well, I thought I had this figured out and now it's not working.”
It's not something you can permanently fix but again, I don't want to say, “All is lost,” I guess one way of thinking of it is I also have generalized anxiety disorder. For me, honestly, just finding the right dose of the right medication, it's good. Obviously, I still have whatever but that's pretty even, it's pretty constant. I don't struggle with anxiety the way I did 15 years ago. It's much more manageable.
Whereas with ADHD, it's a day-to-day thing. It's really a day-to-day thing because there are so many different things that impact our symptoms because it's a problem with regulation. It's a disorder of regulation and it deals with our nervous system and so it's basically we take in way more stimuli than anyone else, we have way too much attention, not a deficit. We have a deficit of regulation. That's what it is.
If it's a day where there's no construction outside, like my neighbors are getting a bathroom remodeled, some days it's super quiet like today and I'm like, “I feel pretty calm.” But on days when they're banging around with that huge dumpster next to my office, it's a lot harder for me.
I'm very overstimulated. I need noise-canceling headphones or I need to go find another place to work and I'm having trouble focusing, whereas the day before when it was quieter, I didn't. Then there are days when it's too quiet. It's just you can't. There's just no constant. It's true. It's maddening.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. First, I think for people who are listening, for lawyers who are listening who have ADHD or suspect that they do, I want them to hear that, because I've seen this implied, you did not give yourself ADHD by becoming a lawyer. Obviously, many of you already know that but I just want to make super clear that that is true, you do not give yourself ADHD.
For lawyers who are listening who are neurotypical, who are assuredly interacting with lawyers who have ADHD, this is going to sound ridiculous but ADHD is a real thing. I think it's important to be really thoughtful about how we think about it and talk about it because there are ways to talk about it that imply that you don't necessarily think it's a real thing or that you do think there is some moral component to the issue of motivation.
Annie Little: Or that it’s not as serious as another. I think that's part of it. Well, this was caused by childhood trauma. Stop. Why are we even talking about it? It exists. It's legitimate.
Sarah Cottrell: Controversial takes on The Former Lawyer Podcast. ADHD exists.
Annie Little: Like diabetes, is it type one or type two? It doesn't matter. Do we agree that it's an insulin issue? Cool. They both exist.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. Oh, before we wrap, I want to mention if you are a lawyer who thinks that you have ADHD, potentially maybe you're not sure, you want to get assessed, you haven't gotten assessed, so many people listened to the previous episode that Annie was on where she talked about her diagnosis of ADHD, which she got through ADHD Online, that ADHD Online reached out to me and gave me a coupon code for my listeners.
So if you are thinking about getting assessed for ADHD, one of the places that you can do that is at ADHD Online. It's literally adhdonline.com. The coupon code is formerlawyer20 and you get $20 off the assessment. I don't get anything for you doing that. It's purely just because they know that there are a lot of lawyers out there who probably have undiagnosed ADHD. Annie, do you want to say anything about your experience with ADHD Online?
Annie Little: Yes. Also, I get nothing. They have not given me a coupon code or anything but I went to them, the impulsivity of my ADHD encouraged me. I'm like, “This might be a scam but I don't want to wait six months for an assessment in person during COVID,” so I filled it out, which is tough, PS, it's like a self-assessment so it takes a long time but they're ADHD sensitive so you can save it and come back to it.
That was in 2021 and I've been getting my treatment and my medication through them ever since. One of the reasons why I have stayed with them, and of course, I also have to see a primary care physician in coordination with that and I have a separate psychiatrist for my anxiety disorder so I'm putting all that out there, they focus on ADHD, I believe they can also help you with any of your comorbidities should they arise.
However, what I love about them is that all of their patients have ADHD so the way they communicate with us is very conscious on that. There are all these regulations that changed about how we could continue our virtual care and they were talking to us about it for a year in advance and being like, “I know. This is really hard here.” This is one little step that you can do.
Yeah, if you don't have time right now, here's the absolute deadline so you can really plan on busting your ass then, it's just the way they communicate is so lovely. I really appreciate it. It's all real licensed doctors. They have also been very helpful and responsive in light of the Adderall shortage. I do use Adderall just very basic weird small dose and I was not impacted by it until recently.
It's a part-time job and they have been so lovely because the active ingredient is a schedule to substance and so you cannot transfer a prescription for Adderall. You have to get a new prescription from your doctor sent to a new pharmacy that has what you need in stock. They are so responsible.
Sarah Cottrell: Oh, my gosh. The executive function olympics.
Annie Little: It's executive function olympics and it's like, “I need my medication so that I can get my medication.” That's seriously where we are right now. It's all online. Their customer service is who you're interfacing with and you don't have to get on the phone if you don't want to. It's all messaging, chatting, and emailing. It's all there and then they forward stuff to your doctor.
My doctor, he's turned around a new prescription at 4:45 on a Friday. It was amazing. This is of course a long rambly ADHD explanation but the long and short of it is that I love ADHD Online because they understand their patients. No pun intended, their focus is on people with ADHD, they know how to communicate with us, they respect us, and I just feel very seen and well cared for when I go to see them.
Sarah Cottrell: I love it. For anyone who's thinking about doing an assessment there, again, quite straightforward, formerlawyer20, and it's $20 off the assessment. Okay, Annie, is there anything else that you think we should talk about in terms of this question that sometimes people raise about whether lawyering causes ADHD? Which I believe we have definitively answered, not that I am the expert but there we are.
Annie Little: Oh, and you know what, maybe the one little thing I would add just a caveat to your very excellent point that you made previously about “Hey, this is a real disorder and you are not giving yourself ADHD by choosing to become a lawyer,” I will say though you're born with ADHD but becoming a lawyer can really up the complexity of your life and that can exacerbate your system or your symptoms.
One reason why a lot of high achievers go undiagnosed for so long with ADHD is because we are high functioning and we are able to mask those symptoms and manage them. Once you start, honestly, adulting, that introduces complexity. Lawyering introduces complexity. What really broke it for me was parenting during a pandemic. I could no longer manage.
I think that's part of why some people would be like, “Well, I didn't have ADHD until I became a lawyer.” Well, you always had it, you managed it in ways which were probably really hard for you but good job. You don't have to do that anymore because for better or for worse, the complexities of being a lawyer have exposed that you have a different way of operating. That's all. It doesn't mean you didn't have it before. It doesn't mean you developed it. It just means it's no longer something that you have to manage on your own.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. As we say to our kids, everyone's brain needs different things. That's just how it is and where we are. Okay, thank you so much for joining me. For anyone who's listening, if you want to check out Annie's website, it's thejdnation.com. Links will be in the show notes. We're about to record another episode about when firms try to fix people who have ADHD, which is going to be very exciting so stay tuned for next week.
Thanks so much for listening. I absolutely love getting to share this podcast with you. If you haven't yet, I invite you to download my free guide: First Steps to Leaving the Law at formerlawyer.com/first. Until next time, have a great week.
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