Edinburgh solicitor speaks out for stammering awareness day

Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd

An Edinburgh-based solicitor has spoken out about being a lawyer with a stammer in the run up to International Stammering Awareness Day.

Joe Boyd spoke to Edinburgh Evening News about his ambition from a young age to be a lawyer.

He told the paper: “My Cousin Vinny is the best courtroom film I have seen and is one of my all-time favourites. However there is a lawyer portrayed near the beginning of the film who had a stammer, and was sacked by his client due to stammering uncontrollably in court.

“I had mixed emotions from watching this. I desperately wanted to be Joe Pesci, who played the main lawyer. But the effect of the stammering lawyer was not lost on me and I think this gave me the motivation not to allow my stammer to stand in the way of what I wanted to be.”

Mr Boyd eventually went on to graduate from University of Edinburgh with a LLB Honours and subsequent law diploma in 2009.

However, he admitted: “Like anything else, there are good days and bad, and it can be hard to consistently find the time and the motivation to carry out the exercises to keep it at bay.”

Mr Boyd added: “I have lost count of the number of tricks and avoidance strategies I have developed over the years to try to continually conceal my stammer. For example, adding ‘filler’ words to sentences to ensure that I can smoothly carry on into the next part of what I am saying.

“However, I had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t always do this and, on occasion, I have to ‘show my stammer off’ in order to speak eloquently, if not fluently.”

Norbert Lieckfeldt, chief executive of the British Stammering Association (BSA), said: “While stammering is still too often a barrier to professional success as people who stammer face discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis, we know that people who stammer often bring qualities and skills highly prized by employers, such as resilience, empathy, creativity and, yes, communication skills.

“Once we realise that it’s OK to stammer at work, we can use all our talents and skills and be ourselves at work.”

International Stammering Awareness Day is on 22 October.