Edinburgh law firm celebrates neurodiversity in style

EDINBURGH-based international law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is marking Neurodiversity Celebration Week with a host of activities and events to raise awareness and support for neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term covering a number of neurological differences, such as ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia and Tourette’s. Throughout the month of March, WBD will be displaying multi-colored umbrellas across its UK offices, as part of the ADHD Foundation’s nationwide Neurodiversity Umbrella initiative. The umbrellas are a bright and positive representation of the diversity of minds and talents within the firm and wider society.

WBD actively drives neurodiversity inclusion with the help of its well-respected Disability Network, which covers all aspects of disability and long-term conditions. The Network has been key in helping WBD develop its support for WBD’s neurodivergent colleagues, such as modifying recruitment processes, introducing a Reasonable Adjustments Policy, creating a Neurodiversity Toolkit, and collaborating with Diversity Lab. The Network has also been engaged in external events and initiatives, such as hosting a disability inclusion webinar with the Law Society, speaking at events including in the US, and arranging a diversity-themed communal painting project.

Bigger, brighter, better

This year, the WBD Disability Network is taking its celebrations to a new level, including:

  • offering a free sensory kit containing a variety of fidget and sensory materials for colleagues and future new joiners at WBD
  • hosting an internal webinar for line managers on managing and supporting neurodivergent colleagues
  • sharing information on its internal Hub pages to raise further awareness, with an update from its colleagues in Womble Bond Dickinson US
  • stocking its DEI library in each UK office with a variety of books about disability and neurodiversity, and
  • meet ups in its offices.

WBD’s Disability Network has been recognized for its outstanding work, being shortlisted as a finalist in the British Diversity Awards 2024 and the Legal 500 ESG UK Awards 2024. Two of its members, Michelle Essen and Emily Cox, have also been shortlisted for individual awards for their disability and neurodiversity advocacy.

Chris Seel, Diversity & Inclusion Adviser and disability lead at the Law Society said: “It has been great to see the recent focus on neurodiversity, with awareness that there are neurodivergent people in the profession certainly increasing. Many firms and organizations are questioning long established recruitment and working practices and making simple adjustments to improve neuro-inclusion, such as by providing interview questions in advance or allowing designated and appropriately situated desks.

“We are keen to see more of this, such as by looking into role adjustments and time recording issues, and for this not to depend on individual neurodivergent people making requests. We would also encourage the same kind of thinking when it comes to disability inclusion generally.”

The Law Society has been a neurodiversity advocate for a number of years, and has collaborated with WBD on several occasions to promote disability inclusion in the legal sector.