You don’t have to let processing disorders and learning disabilities stop you from achieving your dreams of being a lawyer. Testing accommodations can help you manage your condition.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), schools that take federal financial aid cannot discriminate against students with certain learning disabilities. In addition, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act grants accommodations, within reason, to the disabled.
What does that mean for you?
First, you have to have a medically-documented disability that affects your ability to learn or take tests. Common examples include high-functioning autism, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Second, there needs to be a reasonable way for the school to accommodate you. The school can’t make the curriculum easier for you, but it can level the playing field so that you have a fair chance of success. For example, your finals can’t be changed. However, it is possible to give you a private testing area to reduce any distractions that might affect your ADD.
What do you need to do?
Don’t wait until right before your exams at the end of the first year to ask for testing accommodations. It can take a few weeks to get through a school’s administrative processes to obtain the accommodations you need.
However, carefully weigh the pros and cons of disclosing your disability prior to acceptance in a school. If how you’ve overcome your disability is relevant to your application, it could be a great way to show the school your strength of character.
On the other hand, you don’t necessarily want to discuss the accommodations you’ve already received on the LSAT if you think that doing so will weaken your application to the law school of your dreams.
This is partially an emotional decision and partially a logistical one that every law student with a disability needs to decide individually.
What about the bar exam?
Each state offers testing accommodations for bar applicants. How well a school will work with you to make sure that you have the necessary documentation and support you as you seek accommodations from the bar association is important.
Don’t let a disability stop you from becoming a lawyer. There are steps you can take to make sure that your needs are met during your school and licensing exams.
Source: US News, “Learn How to Navigate Learning Disabilities in Law School,” Michelle Kim Hall, accessed April 26, 2018