I never got around to mentioning it on this blog, but a few months ago I took a dive into the world of “BigLaw” (i.e., large, for-profit law firms). My fellowship at the mental health law nonprofit came to an end, and, seeking more litigation experience, I landed a job at a global law firm in an office that focuses largely on patent law (I purposefully avoided law firms doing disability law, as they’re usually on the side of corporations defending against discrimination claims, which would in many circumstances make me uncomfortable).
It’s been an awesome experience so far, and a bit of a culture shock. I’m certainly not “out” at this new place, as I’d like to give people the opportunity to come to their own conclusions about me and my skills before I disclose a disability (when disclosing, there’s always the risk that people will interpret every mistake you make or every quirk you have as a “symptom” and come to negative conclusions). Being in the closet requires a certain amount of complex maneuvering, which so far has included: (1) disclosing single aspects of my disability without disclosing the actual full diagnosis; (2) taking decompression breaks in my office with the door closed, which luckily most people interpret as me being really busy; (3) coming up with really creative sensory toys that “pass” as athletic equipment or normal desk toys or jewelry (I even have started a tumblr blog about this, Sensory Squids).
That said, patent litigation is really fun. I’m a bit of an autistic stereotype in that I greatly enjoy math and technology, and many of the other lawyers have advanced degrees in science and are therefore used to dealing with geeks even if they aren’t geeks themselves.
So with that, I give you perhaps the most ridiculous patent ever granted:
Method of swinging on a swing.
I’m pretty sure what happened here is that a patent lawyer was very amused by his child’s innovative technique of swinging on the swingset, and decided to try to patent it. The fact that this patent was awarded is truly amazing. I wonder how they’d ever collect royalties on it.
I started this blog to talk about interesting legal news and commentary. Taking a hiatus to study for the bar and complete a judicial clerkship sort of got me out of the habit of posting and collecting new readers. After a year to get settled into actually practicing as an attorney, I’m ready to resume blogging. Of course, a lot happens in two years, so I anticipate that my focus will be a bit different now than it was before.
First, and most notably, I’ve become more willing to discuss my own experiences as a lawyer with disabilities. Although I’m going to keep blogging under a pseudonym so that these experiences aren’t the first thing people find out about me when they google me, I hope to also be more open to my coworkers and contacts about my disabilities. As someone with “invisible” disabilities I’ve usually erred on the side of not disclosing them publicly – especially in a professional context – out of fear that people will begin to underestimate my actual abilities. On the other hand, I recently had the privilege of meeting Ari Ne’eman, who has convinced me that coming out may help others by dispelling myths about my disabilities. I’m also aware that while the nature of my disability is invisible, its manifestations can be quite salient to people who interact with me on a regular basis.
As far as I know, I am the only attorney posting publicly about their experiences with developmental and learning disabilities. I hope that my experiences may be somewhat helpful to other professionals and aspiring professionals who might discover this blog.
Of course, I also plan to continue posting about legal issues, but those those posts will now be more explicitly informed by my own experiences.
The new name for this blog was chosen to better encompass the range of topics that the blog will probably cover. I plan to soon change the URL to weirdlaw.wordpress.com – sadly, that tool has been disabled for the past few days.
Frequently, laws are more a means of expressing the majority’s attitudes toward certain types or classes of people than about the effects they really have on those people. This is a new blog on how law and populations that get “legislated about.”