I'm Marshall. I'm a lawyer. And I've got ADHD.
This podcast episode is my origin story: how I went from “regular old anxious, depressed lawyer guy” to ADD lawyer with bona fide superpowers.
Thanks for listening!
Welcome! Why JDHD? Why Me? Why now?
This introduction to ADD for lawyers aims to tell you my “origin story.” How did we get here? How did I end up dedicating my career to helping lawyers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (whether they know they have it or not)?
“On a desperate hunch, I talked to a charlatan who claimed to help adults with ADHD. In her wisdom, though, Roberta quickly concluded that I categorically did not have ADHD. After all, I had graduated from college and went to law school and passed the bar exam and practiced law. How could someone with ADHD do things like that?”
“My seven-year-old son—who is clever and amazing and compassionate and kind—is upside down on a worn leather couch. This is not unusual for him. His ass is resting where his head should be. His head is resting where his ass should be.”
Grab “An Introduction to ADHD for Lawyers,” our totally free 10-day email course.
|[00:14]||Everett's Appointment (and his ass).|
|[01:18]||Everyone's Anxiety About Everett's Appointment.|
|[02:07]||“You and I? We don't do boring very well. Not very well at all.”|
|[03:27]||I'm Marshall. I'm a lawyer. And I have ADHD.|
|[04:08]||Before I was an ADD lawyer.|
|[05:07]||A cute little “starter” panic attack and other tips that I had something other than regular ol' anxiety or depression.|
|[05:24]||The Charlatan & Desperation.|
|[06:51]||56mg of a controlled substance and other secrets of the adult ADHD life.|
|[08:15]||I am finally living the life that I want to lead.|
|[10:29]||What is JDHD?|
|[12:28]||Early days and the 3 things.|
|[13:16]||I'm so honored that you're listening to this episode. I'm so thankful you're here. I'm so hopeful for our future. And I will see you soon.|
Never Miss an Episode
- Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
- Join The JDHD newsletter.
Work with Me
- Law Firm Consulting & The Small Firm Roadmap
- ADHD Coaching
- Marketing Strategy
- A Mastermind Group for Lawyers with ADHD
Be a Guest on the Podcast
I'm sitting in an office on the sixth floor of a historic office building overlooking a park on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. The building itself is beautiful. It's ornate, it's important, and inside looks… Mostly just old. Paper and files and books clutter the expansive and well-used office that I'm sitting in. This is a working person's office. There's no pretense here.
My seven-year-old son, who is clever and amazing and compassionate and kind, is upside down on a worn leather couch. This is not unusual for him. His ass is resting where his head should be. His head is resting where his ass should be. He's gently but rhythmically and persistently banging his feet against the office window. One of his shoes is over there by the door. He's gnashing on candy his psychologist gifted him a bit too gratuitously (if you ask me). His goopy fingers sneak their way into the creases and crevasses of that beautiful and aged couch.
A couch has seen thousands of asses and heads and goopy fingers, I think to myself. I'm annoyed and I'm embarrassed. I'm anxious about what will happen. I'm anxious about what it will all mean for him. For me. For us. I'm definitely aware I shouldn't be skipping work. I've got shitloads of work. I always have shitloads of work and I'm always anxious about it. I mean always. This is not unusual for me. I haven't had a worry-free day or night or weekend or vacation in a decade. My wife sits quietly waiting patiently for someone to make words. She has accepted Everett's head and ass and feet. She's accepted my annoyance and my embarrassment. She's wearing a colorful scarf. Hair's curled at the bottom and at the end of some days, like this one, it looks just a little flatter than it did this morning. She looks peaceful, a little tired.
She, too, has shitloads of work. She always has shitloads of work. She's not anxious. This is not unusual for her. The psychologist is completely unfazed. As we learn later, this is not unusual for him. The good doctor looks carefully into my son's upside-down eyes and corrals Everett's full attention. He leans in and lowers his voice, pointing at his own forehead. Dr. Johnson shares gently, “Everett, you and I? We don't do boring very well. Not very well at all. And then that psychologist diagnosed my boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. We knew this, of course. We had known it—without actually knowing it—for years. What we didn't know was that I would be back in that same psychologist's office six months later. My feet, my head, and my ass would be at more customary latitudes and longitudes. But the outcome would be identical. “Marshall? You and I? We don't do boring very well. Not very well at all.” I should've known this. Of course. I should have known it for years.
I'm Marshall. I'm a lawyer and I have ADHD. I was diagnosed shortly after my 42nd birthday. Before I was a lawyer with ADHD, I was just a lawyer with promise and potential and clients and work. I was a big firm lawyer. I was a small firm lawyer. I was a transactional lawyer. I was a litigator. I was a trial lawyer. I was a law firm founder and a partner and a managing partner. And much of that time I was a BORED lawyer. I was an enthusiastic advisor and consultant. I was a passionate business owner. I was creative and energetic about what we could build and how we could grow our business and serve our clients and love our team. Doing the work of practicing law was almost always really, really boring to me.
Before I was a lawyer with ADHD, I owned a flat and uninspiring law business with a partner who had lost faith in me like me. It had real potential. I had clients who loved me but were frequently annoyed with my timeliness and execution. My partner wanted me to do more legal work. I couldn't blame him. I wanted to do less. I also wanted to run away. And in a fit of desperation, I did. A generous and patient business partner bought me out. I went hunting (again) for a thing that let me feel like I was actually good at something. I tried a new job. It seemed like a brilliant fit, and for a while anyway, it worked. I learned new and exciting things every day. But I didn't feel any better. Somehow, despite having left my law practice behind, I felt more frazzled and more anxious. I had crippling self-doubt and unrelenting imposter syndrome. I worked harder than I ever had before and I still couldn't get things done. My output slowed to an embarrassing trickle.
I had a cute little “starter” panic attack. While I was on vacation. I collapsed into a ball. I cried. In front of my kids. In front of my wife. In front of my mom. I went to see a guy. He diagnosed me with anxiety. He sold me therapy. I tried medication for anxiety. It was fine.
On a desperate hunch, I talked to a charlatan who claimed to help adults with ADHD. In her wisdom, though, Roberta quickly concluded that I categorically did not have ADHD. After all, I had graduated from college and went to law school and passed the bar exam and practiced law. How could someone with ADHD do things like that? “Don't be dim,” she (probably) said (to herself). I believed her, of course. I was being dim. ADHD is what lazy parents call their hyperactive seven-year-old boys who have never seen a day of discipline in lives.
I left that appointment a desperate man. I felt the exasperation in my chest. My sadness and helplessness were a second pulsating heartbeat, but instead of pumping life and oxygen, this little second heartbeat siphoned my soul beat by beat. No one in Everett's psychologist's office that day—least of all me—knew it, but at the very moment that my son's doctor diagnosed him with ADHD… At the moment my son started on his path to a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment despite (and hopefully because of) his ADHD, everything in my life had completely unraveled.
As I record this podcast episode, I have 56 milligrams of a controlled substance called methylphenidate coursing through my veins. There's a physical timer called a “Time Timer” that I have carefully set to show me exactly how much time is left for this critical task. I've incorporated a powerful labyrinth of practices and habits and tools and apps and hacks and resources and automations and systems to help me be my best at work and at home. I've recruited a team of people dedicated to helping me live the life I want to lead: a psychologist or two, a primary care provider, an ADHD coach, a mastermind group, a support group for lawyers with ADHD, and a handful of carefully-selected private Facebook groups. I subscribe to every ADHD podcast that I can find, several about productivity in general, and I've quickly built a library of blogs and websites and books and articles about ADHD that I lean on almost daily.
I've been to two ADHD conferences already and I'm headed to another one with my wife in a couple of weeks. Speaking of wives, I have one. She's amazing. She's also a lawyer, but she doesn't have ADHD. Instead, she's a mother to a kid with ADHD, spouse to a husband with ADHD, lawyer to clients with ADHD, and coworker to professionals who have ADHD. She's a spouse who has done everything in her power to understand who I am, how my brain works, and why it is so fun and such a complete pain in the ass to live with me sometimes.
Here's the thing: I am finally living the life that I want to lead. It's not perfect. I stumble, usually daily. I have self-doubt and perfectionism and I struggle with time management and project management and prioritization. I struggle getting finished. Getting started. And emotional turbulence. Imposter syndrome.
I have also unlocked a boundless creativity and entrepreneurship and enthusiasm. I'm putting my grit and my charm and my perceptiveness to work. I'm inspiring people, strategizing ways for them to build better law businesses and law practices and lives, and I'm learning new things every day. I'm connecting—I mean REALLY connecting with people—who find hope and energy and my passion and my knowledge, my big-picture thinking, my sensitivity, my inventiveness, which are now on full display. And I'm building a life that makes my strengths primary and finds ways to banish my weaknesses to the smallest little corner of the universe.
So I want to talk about my “why.” Why JDHD? Why me? Why now? Let me be clear. I've built JDHD for me. I looked around and there was no one resource for someone who is a lawyer wanting to learn about ADHD, wanting to learn about productivity, learn about how to run a business as an ADHD lawyer, how to grow, how to improve, and how to find other people like me, to learn about how to talk about it, to learn about how to live with it.
I've also built it for you. I've built JDHD for every single lawyer on the planet with ADHD, whether they know they have it or not. I built GDHD because I longed for worry-free nights and weekends and I couldn't understand how to have them. I built ADHD because together we're going to bring 1 million worry-free nights and weekends to lawyers. I built ADHD because perfectionism needs to be burned to death with fire. Because abundant systems need people at their best. Because our jobs and our lives and our businesses are better when we know our strengths and when we use those strengths as often as humanly possible. Because we all need margin in our lives, and the way to build margin is to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses and learn to put on our own oxygen masks before we go out and try to help anyone else.
So, what is JDHD? Well, it's still in its early days. But it is, first of all, a proven system to help you seize control again. It's a podcast, a website, and a library. It's a mastermind group and a resource hub. It's CLEs and classes and courses and speeches. It's coaching and consulting for lawyers and law firms. It will be a book and a lifestyle and a transformation agent for our profession and lots and lots of people in it. And it will be an end to ADHD stigma. It will let us talk about our ADHD. It will let us empower ourselves with ADHD. And it will let us empower our organizations and our profession with people who have ADHD and can bring those talents to bear on a profession that desperately needs it. So what can you expect? Well, this has taken on quite a serious tone because I take my ADHD really seriously, but I also try and have a lot of fun. So you can expect that—beyond being serious and bringing you really important information and confidentiality first and foremost—that we're going to have some fun.
I'm going to bring on guests that have fun. I'm going to try to be fun. I'm going to give you tips and tricks that are fun and helpful and empowering and energizing. You can expect two podcast episodes every week. You can expect a website as soon as I can create it. Blog posts and writing and hopefully another book someday soon. You can expect speeches and CLEs and courses and classes. You can expect a community of other people like you who take confidentiality seriously and also take growth and improvement and empowerment seriously. You can expect some swearing, you can expect some radical vulnerability and you can expect learning and teaching and iterating and improving as we go. And you can expect me to lean on you to help each other and to help me. As I said, these are early days for JDHD.
They're early days for me as a lawyer with ADHD. But I want you here with me. There are already a thousand ways for you to help and you'll hear about all of them in due course. But right now I hope you will do three things.
First of all, subscribe to this podcast. If you don't know how to do that, let me know. I will show you. I'll walk you through it. But I hope you'll subscribe and I hope you'll rate it and review it and do the things that you do with podcasts that you come to love and trust.
Second, I hope you'll sign up for my entirely free email course. I call it the “Introduction to ADHD for Lawyers,” and you can find it at https://TheJDHD.com/course. It's for 10 days. It's a quick email and it will just describe for you the early introductory level stuff, the high-level stuff about ADHD for lawyers.
Finally, I hope you'll email me or tweet me or LinkedIn me or text me or whatever. Just connect. I read and respond to every single reach out I get and I can't wait to get yours. Find me at marshall@TheJDHD.com. I'm so honored that you're listening to this episode. I'm so thankful you're here. I'm so hopeful for our future. I will see you soon. Meanwhile, let's help each other. Let's make ADHD easier, law hard enough.