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Woman becomes first ‘openly autistic’ person to practice law in Florida

(Courtesy: Haley Moss)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — At the age of 3, Haley Moss was diagnosed with autism and doctors told her parents that she would be lucky if she ever got a driver’s license, make a friend or work a minimum wage job, according to KDVR.

Twenty-one years later, she has became the first “openly autistic” person to be admitted to the Florida Bar, the Associated Press reports. And she works at one of the top law firms in Miami.

“I’m very passionate about things I enjoy and I love to write,” Moss said, according to The AP. “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 was sworn into the Florida Bar during a Jan. 11 ceremony in Miami.

“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,” said Joseph Zumpano, co-founder and managing shareholder of Zumpano Patricios, the law firm that offered Moss a job.

“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,” Zumpano said.

Moss and Zumpano want to encourage people living with autism to never give up on their dreams and capitalize on their strengths.

“My advice for people with disabilities and people with autism that are looking for jobs or anything is don’t place limits on yourself and knowing what you’re good at helps a lot, too,” Moss said.

“If you’re an autistic individual or a family with an autistic family member, don’t let anybody else’s perceptions of your limitations dictate your own,” Zumpano said. “Haley has broken through this glass ceiling, and the firm is proud to be the hammer that shatters it, there’s hope for everybody.”

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