Jan 14 / Jon Hocker

Meet the contributor- Sonay Erten

Meet ADHD and Autism coach and Dispute Resolution lawyer, Sonay Erten. 

Sonay was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism at the age of 32 and has since gone on to advocate for mental health awareness and support in the legal profession.

Following her diagnoses of ADHD and autism and receiving coaching, she now understands that her lack of diagnosis (and understanding how her brain works), was strongly connected to her mental health struggles, and she’s on a mission to ensure no one experiences what she has experienced and is now a certified ADHD coach, providing coaching for autistic and ADHD members of the legal profession.

While contributing her courses for the site (access her courses here), we took the opportunity to get her perspective on some of the burning questions around the legal sector and professional development.  

Read on as she shares some interesting facts about disabilities in the legal profession and how opening up about her own ADHD and Autism to other legal professionals led to inspiring others like her to remain in the profession.

Do you have a favourite failure? Something that didn’t go so well at the time, but has actually benefited you in the long-run? 

Not so much a failure but something that was awful for me at the time and that’s when I went on furlough for three months in 2020. At the time, I was so worried about the impact it would have on my career - would it lead to my training contract being extended? How will I fill my days? Will I forget everything? Instead, I started to build  my network which ended up leading to me becoming self-employed last year.

If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, what’s the top piece of advice you would give yourself?
Don’t give up - you’ll get there.

If you could change anything about the legal industry, what would it be?

The stigma and complete lack of awareness of disabilities. In 2023, 6% of lawyers in law firms consider themselves disabled. The actual number of disabled people in the profession is probably higher but they are either unaware of it (so many autistics and ADHDers go undiagnosed) or are scared coming forward would impact their career. This needs to change and we need to encourage more disabled people to join the profession.

What advice would you give to legal professionals looking to further their career?

Build your network and that doesn’t mean go to networking events - connect with people on LinkedIn, join your local Junior Lawyer’s Division, attend all sorts of webinars and events.

What have you done in your career that has made the biggest difference?

Generally speaking openly about my autism, ADHD and mental health. They’re not subjects that are spoken about nearly enough and whenever I do, I receive so much feedback about how people feel seen and inspired to join/stay in the profession. We need more diversity in the profession and the more people feel like they have a place in the profession, then the more diversity will increase.

Read more of Sonay’s course content here.