In-House Counsel

Tourette’s Doesn’t Interfere with Public Role for New General Counsel at ACC

The new general counsel for the Association of Corporate Counsel doesn’t shy away from public speaking, despite his Tourette’s Syndrome.

Most recently, James Merklinger was deputy general counsel and acting vice president of legal resources at the group, according to a press release. In his new role as general counsel, he will represent the ACC on legal issues and advise the association on meeting the needs of in-house counsel.

He replaces Susan Hackett, who left the ACC to form her own consulting business.

Merklinger has advocated on behalf of people with Tourette’s and has represented immigrants on a pro bono basis, Corporate Counsel reports. In an online profile by the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, Merklinger said the ACC recognizes his public speaking skills, even though he suffers from tics and involuntary vocalizations that afflict those with Tourette’s.

Not every employer has been so understanding, Merklinger wrote in a 2006 article (PDF) for Diversity & the Bar. “I have been ostracized, ridiculed, threatened, screamed at, and terminated from jobs for having Tourette’s,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I am not placed in a threatening situation because I have Tourette’s Syndrome. And that’s just riding the Metro to work!”

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