Amina Amin, a first-year trainee solicitor at Jones Whyte LLP, offers her top five tips to others just starting their legal career on how to combat imposter syndrome.

Whilst working from home is a challenge in itself, it's important to shed some light on imposter syndrome and the effect that this can have on young lawyers beginning their legal career.

For those who don’t know, imposter syndrome is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills”.

As young lawyers who are fully engaged in the practice of law, there are often times that we can feel out of our depth. We place a large amount of pressure on ourselves to excel in our legal career. However, we can end up spending little time on our mental wellbeing. It is pertinent to recognise that, whilst our careers are of upmost importance, taking care of our mental wellbeing should be our ultimate priority.

Admittedly, when I first embarked on my legal career, I too felt like an “imposter” to say the least. I often feared making mistakes and wondered if the legal profession was for me. However, I soon realised that my self-doubt was in play and I,  indeed, was suffering from imposter syndrome.

Overcoming self-doubt is not an easy step, but I have compiled my top five tips on combating imposter syndrome before it hinders your success.

  1. Recognise your value. Whilst you may feel like a “little fish in a big pond,” us little fishes are just as important! Step back and reflect on the contribution you have made to your firm.
  2. Own your accomplishments and celebrate them. As trainee solicitors, we often find it hard to accept compliments on our work. When things go well, we tend to attribute them to external factors, such as help from fellow colleagues. Rather than ignoring the compliment, learn to draw strength from it. Acknowledge your skill and talent that made the particular achievement possible.
  3. Develop a response to mistake making. Don’t spend time dwelling on the mistake you have made. Rather, glean the learning value from the error and move forward.
  4. Let go of your inner perfectionist. Those who suffer from imposter syndrome tend to be high achievers. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards and are committed to doing our best. However, striving for perfectionism is not realistic. Instead, focus on accepting pragmatic, challenging and achievable goals.
  5. “Fake it till you make it.” A clichéd expression perhaps, but it really does work. Reaffirm that you are confident, smart and belong in the legal profession. By telling yourself that you have these qualities, soon enough you won’t need a reminder.

Remember - the key to beating imposter syndrome is to stop thinking like an imposter.

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