Haley Moss, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler is the first openly autistic person to be admitted to the Florida Bar, The Associated Press reported Saturday.
When she was younger, Moss told the publication that her doctors thought she would possibly never be able to live independently or work at a minimum wage job. Now, Moss, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Law, lives on her own and works at a law firm in Miami.
“I’m very passionate about things I enjoy and I love to write,” Moss told the publication.
“That’s also part of why I went to law school, and I love to be able to help others, so even with writing, I love that I’m able to express myself completely and what I can say has the ability to help someone else,” she continued.
Moss, who was first admitted to the Florida Bar last month, told the news outlet that she was offered a position by the law firm where she currently works, the Zumpano Patricios firm based in Coral Gables, before she even passed her bar exam.
Joseph Zumpano, the co-founder of the firm, told The Associated Press that areas of his firm’s practices, which span managed care legislation and anti-terrorism, were “intrinsically related” to his decision to offer Moss a job.
“When I was introduced to Haley by a former lawyer at our firm, I immediately picked up on the fact that she was obviously brilliant — brilliant and a good person,” Zumpano told the publication.
“As a core value, we wanted to be the first firm to bring in an openly autistic lawyer and make the point that if you align people to their strengths then given the chance, they excel,” Zumpano, whose son also has autism, continued. “To our knowledge, Haley is the first lawyer that we know of in a substantial law firm in the state of Florida that is openly autistic. There may be others but we haven’t found them.”
When pressed about advice for potential employers of workers who may be living with autism, Moss told the news agency: “To employers, I would say ‘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,” she added.