Applying to Stephenson Harwood with a disability, neurodivergence or long-term condition

by the future talent team

Stephenson Harwood London office exterior

Stephenson Harwood is committed to ensuring that candidates with disabilities, neurodivergences, and long-term conditions are fully supported throughout the recruitment process. Since September 2022, we have implemented the "offer an interview" scheme which enables training contract and apprenticeship candidates who meet the essential criteria for a role to opt in to being interviewed. As part of this, a member of the future talent team will contact you to ensure you have all the adjustments you need to do your best during the recruitment process.

Two of our future trainees, Yemi and Adam, opted into the scheme and received adjustments as part of their recruitment process. Read what they have to say about the process, and their experiences, below.


Would you be able to provide a brief background about yourself and your disability?

Yemi: I studied my undergraduate law degree at the University of Kent and an LLM in International Business Law at the London School of Economics. I am also a qualified lawyer in Nigeria. After gaining some legal experience in Nigeria and the UK, I decided to pursue a long-term career as a commercial lawyer in London.

I was diagnosed with Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) last year. It’s a long-term condition that makes one prone to physical exhaustion, lethargy, and muscle pains (amongst other symptoms). Since my diagnosis, I have been able to cope well with the condition through a mix of lifestyle adjustments (i.e., a change in diet), medication, energy management and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I have learnt to utilise my productive hours efficiently, take advantage of down time and take breaks as frequently as possible to ensure that I stay refreshed. I also have an awareness of my stressors, which has meant that I am able to better manage my time and schedule.

Adam: After graduating from university without securing a training contract, I decided to explore other career options and worked in the insurance industry for four years. After two and half years in insurance, I was confident that I still wanted to become a solicitor and secured a place on Stephenson Harwood's spring placement scheme. 

I am dyslexic but wasn't diagnoised until the end of my first year of university. When I found out I was dyslexic, it felt like curtains had finally been opened!


How did you hear about the offer an interview scheme with Stephenson Harwood?

Yemi: I first heard about the “offer an interview scheme” whilst applying for a training contract with the firm. The initial application form contained some information about the scheme, which caught my attention. I found that it was well tailored to disabled applicants, as it went beyond a generic statement about disability and reasonable adjustments. I then did some more research on the scheme and decided to opt in.


Did you ask for adjustments as part of your recruitment process? If so, what were they?

Yemi: Alhough I disclosed my disability at application stage, it had not occurred to me to ask for any adjustments. Prior to my assessment centre, the future talent team reached out to me asking if I would like any adjustments to the process. This, to me, showed a genuine commitment to fostering an inclusive recruitment process. As that was my first time discussing my disability as part of the recruitment process, I wasn’t initially sure what adjustments to ask for. However, I liaised with the future team to reach a suitable solution.

Adam: I asked for 25% extra time during timed assessments. My dyslexia means that I have a slower working memory than others, so it takes me longer to read than my peers.


How were your adjustments implemented during the recruitment process?

Yemi: The assessment centre required me to do a few different tasks during the day and I was given slightly longer breaks inbetween these. This meant that I was able to stay calm and refreshed throughout the process, without feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Although a small adjustment, it helped me put my best foot forward during the day.

Adam: When submitting my application, I explained what adjustments I needed and the future talent team were very accommodating in providing this. During the placement scheme, a member of the future talent team met with me to discuss any adjustments I may have needed during the assessment centre process. 


Do you have any advice for someone who is unsure about disclosing their disability during the recruitment process?

Yemi: To anyone who is unsure about disclosing their disability, my advice would be to remember that disclosure is not aimed at ostracising you. Rather, it helps you get the support you need and ensures that you excel as a disabled candidate. That said, always remember that disclosure is voluntary, and it remains your prerogative: you do not have to disclose your disability, unless you feel comfortable doing so.


Adam: My advice is simple – do it! If I did not disclose my dyslexia, I would not have obtained my training contract.

If you are undecided on whether you should disclose your disability, my recommendation would be to email or call the future talent team and explain your disability, and they can explain the recruitment process in more detail to help you decide whether you want to disclose your disability in your application form.