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The Decision: Should A Minority With Asperger’s Even Bother?

When I discussed the NALP mental health panel, I noted that we are going to see more and more law students with mental health problems in the future. As mental health services get better in high school and college, people who would have washed out are going to do well enough to get into law school.

But should they go to law school? Today, we have a question from a person suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. He got into a Top 6 law school, with scholarship money. But he wonders if he should even bother if he’ll get shut of Biglaw because of his symptoms.

Let’s see what you guys think….

Here’s the earnest question from our guy, who we’ll call Eric Cartmenez.

I’ve been accepted to a T6 w/about a 30k a year scholarship and I’ve put down a deposit, but I’m still having doubts about the law. I’ve always wanted to practice law, but I’m worried that I have a combination of traits that will prevent me from being hired in BigLaw or surviving in the corporate law world. I have diagnosed Asperger’s and my main concern is that I have almost no social skills; I have tried to improve it throughout my life, but I simply cannot deal with others (even as friends) and I prefer to spend almost all my time alone. I cannot work well in groups, socialize or read other people’s faces which look like blank slates to me (unsurprisingly, I never do well in interviews). To my understanding, corporate law firms are incredibly cutthroat and political places and require a high degree of social skills to succeed. I am also concerned that I will be held back in my career because I’m short (I’m 5’5″), a minority (I’m half Black and half Latino), and I have no connections whatsoever.

I guess my final question would be: even with a T6 acceptance with a decent amount of money, should I pursue law given all the other factors? Thank you guys for your advice!

Thank You,

Anxiety & Uncertainty

Man, that is a happy-fun-ball of issues right there.

If I may reduce your whole question, the real issue here is whether this statement is true: “To my understanding, corporate law firms are incredibly cutthroat and political places and require a high degree of social skills to succeed.”

Now, people are all over the map on that. In my experience, it seems that people with social skills tend to think that Biglaw does not require them, while people without social skills seem to think that their deficiency held them back. But then you have the people who have no social skills, but think they do, and think they only got to where they are because people are constantly impressed by them, not knowing that they are secretly hated by all.

Everybody will tell you that they know a Biglaw partner who “must have Asperger’s or something,” except that the partner they’re thinking of probably doesn’t have Asperger’s and reads people just fine… he’s just a freaking sociopath who doesn’t care why people cry.

I think it all comes down to confidence. You don’t need social skills to succeed in Biglaw — or even in a Biglaw interview — but you need to act like you have skills and like you will succeed. It’s the narcissists who get to rule. To answer your question with a question: when you see a face that looks like a “blank slate,” are you good at drawing orgasmic expressions that look like they’re hanging on your every word on those slates? Or do you assume the worst? If the former, people will probably hate you, but you’ll do fine. If the later, that will really freak people out.

Look, I’m not going to tell anybody that they shouldn’t go to law school because they’re suffering from an illness. I think this guy can overcome, and if his dream really is to bill 80 hours a week doing donkey work for eight years or more until he has a chance at the brass ring, then more power to him. I’m not going to piss on his dreams, I’m going to give him a pep talk

[Music swells]

You are 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you’ve got barely a speck of emotional awareness. And you hung in there and got into one of the best law schools in the land for three years. You’re going to walk out of there with a J.D. from CCN. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen. Now go on back to law school!

What do you guys think? Take our poll below.

Should this minority student with Asperger's Syndrome go to a top law school?

  • Yes. (60%, 1,015 Votes)
  • Regardless of law school, he won't get a job in Biglaw. (21%, 351 Votes)
  • No. (19%, 330 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,696

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Earlier: Does Your Law School Need A Panic Button?

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