A Trailblazing Lawyer Advocates for Accessibility and Inclusion
Haley Moss knows that for our legal system to function the way it should, it needs to look like the people it represents — including people with disabilities. “We need all types of minds to get all kinds of jobs done,” she says. Moss embodies that concept in more ways than one: Not only is she Florida’s first openly autistic lawyer, but she also is a public speaker and consultant on disability and neurodiversity at work. LSAC is honored to share Moss’s inspiring story.
Moss initially thought she would be a doctor — “I thought the coolest thing would be to become an autistic psychiatrist,” she says — but soon realized she wasn’t passionate about the sciences. She decided to focus on what she enjoys: helping people, making a difference, writing, and speaking — all things lawyers do. After her undergraduate work at the University of Florida, she graduated from the University of Miami School of Law; from there, she worked mostly in antiterrorism litigation at a firm in Florida before starting her own public speaking and consulting business. “I do plan on jumping back into practice soon,” she says.
Moss is hoping to change the fact that not many lawyers are open about their disabilities. “I remember in my first year of law school, there was a blind student in my section, but she did not return for the second semester — and I wondered why,” she says. “Law school is not always as accessible as it could be for people with disabilities. However, if more people with disabilities go to law school and begin working in our communities, they’ll be able to create the change we need.”
In fact, Moss credits being a lawyer for putting her in a position in which people respect, listen to, and trust her more. This enables her to effectively advocate for inclusion and neurodiversity in the workplace. But getting there wasn’t always easy, especially when she didn’t know any other attorneys with disabilities as a law student. Early in her career, though, she met an attorney with her same diagnosis, and the two had a memorable conversation. “It was very meaningful to talk to someone with their own firm who had the same diagnosis as me,” she says. “It shows we’re out there.”
Moss now plays a role in inspiring others to discover the benefits of a legal education as part of LSAC’s BE IndiVISIBLE campaign, which encourages all people from all walks of life to consider law school.
For any law student or lawyer with a disability, Moss recommends “showing up as your full self” — in other words, not hiding your disability or acting like someone you’re not. “Don’t try to be the same as your neurotypical or nondisabled counterparts,” she says. “But remember, if you do choose to disclose your disability, make it clear that it’s not everything you are.”
We’re grateful to Haley Moss for allowing us to share her story. LSAC is committed to promoting accessibility in legal education and the legal profession. We are grateful for people like Haley Moss who are adding their vital voices to our community — and, in turn, creating a more just and prosperous world.