«I have been dyslexic for only nine years so far», tells Antonio Caterino to La Stampa while smiling. «All of a sudden I understood the reason behind my difficulties in studying, a great deal of effort in reading and understanding texts compared to my colleagues». But the diagnosis arrived in adulthood «enabled me to see all the positive aspects of dyslexia, which are unknown to most people because of lack of information and prejudice».
From that moment on, Caterino, who is now 34 and works at LCA – one of the hundred largest law firms in Italy – encouraged by his colleagues and by the Firm’s founder Giovanni Lega, has never stopped fighting for the rights of the many young people affected by Specific Learning Disorders who aspire to practice the duties of a lawyer. On 12 April, he obtained an important achievement: the Court of Appeal and the Milan Bar Association signed a protocol that ‘institutionalises’ the application of the compensatory and dispensatory measures provided for by Law 170 of 2010 for all candidates with SLD in the bar exam.
However, due to a legal loophole, these measures are only accredited to students and undergraduates. Not even to the 12,000 dyslexic young people who every year aim at entering the labor market, taking public competitions or professional exams «with inhuman efforts». To fill this gap, an assembly bill has been presented, the Rossomando Legislative Degree, but in the meantime the Milan protocol «is an extraordinary first step. And we hope that soon, thanks to the intervention of the National Legal Council and the Ministry of Justice, it will be extended to other Court of Appeal districts».
Caterino continues: «3.5 per cent of the Italian population is dyslexic. A few know actually that SLD make us less performing in some areas, but make us stand out in others. As a matter of fact, by appealing to the imagination, a dyslexic intelligence is able to uncover new ways to solve problems, relying on unexpected methods that bring an advantage to society». There are examples in the most diverse fields: «from chemistry to computer science (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates), from art to cinema, from politics (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) to sport (Michael Jordan and Lewis Hamilton)». To solve the problem of aspiring lawyers in Milan who want to take the exam – now that, due to the pandemic, has been changed and become oral – all that was carried out was adding an article to a first text that already existed and signed in 2019 always in Milan «which proves itself to be the home of rights», but which only concerned the written exam.