Haley Moss, a Florida native who was first diagnosed with autism at the age of three, has passed the Florida bar exam and become a lawyer at age 24. As an Associated Press article notes, when she was diagnosed, her doctors thought she might never be able to work a minimum wage job or live independently.
She soon began to exceed those expectations. WPEC, a Florida-based CBS television station, reported that Moss learned to speak at the age of four and eventually moved out of special education classes at her school. By the time she was 15, she had written a book about navigating through middle school. She followed that book up a few years later with A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, according to a USA Today article.
She earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Florida, one in psychology and one in criminology, at the age of 20, and went on to law school at the University of Miami. After graduating in June 2018, she took a job at Zumpano Patricios, a law firm in Coral Gables, Fla.
She still had a hurdle to jump: the bar exam. She passed. She was admitted to Florida bar in January in Miami, making her “Florida’s first lawyer living openly with autism,” according to the USA Today article. She specializes in anti-terrorism and healthcare, fields that require a sharp memory and the ability to understand complex relationships, notes firm co-founder Joe Zumpano in the USA Today article. “So when you’ve someone with an exceptional memory ability and an exceptional ability to connect people, places and things, that’s a tremendous asset for any law firm,” he said. “And Haley brings that to the table.”
Moss has some advice for employers, saying in the Associated Press article that she would tell them: “’don’t put limits,’ and ‘you’re investing in what someone can do, and you need to look at what people can do as opposed to what they might not be able to do.’ A disability generally is not all-encompassing, it is just part of who someone is, not everything they are. Everyone is unique, everyone has strengths and weaknesses and everyone has talent.”