3 Tips for Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Who do you think you are?

Chances are that you heard that a lot as a kid. While some parents and teachers reward youthful ambition with encouragement, others see it as stepping out of line and react accordingly. Sadly, their reaction can stick with you at all stages of your legal career, resulting in imposter syndrome. In this article, we explain what imposter syndrome is and how you can prevent it from derailing your confidence on the job.

What Is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt relating to career accomplishments. You feel like you have only gotten where you are today because of luck, not because of your skills or abilities. This may result in you:

  • Being unable to realistically assess your competence and skills
  • Crediting your success to external factors like luck 
  • Constantly feeling like you aren’t good enough
  • Isolating yourself so that no one figures out how “incompetent” you really are
  • Gradually burning out from overwork and anxiety

Despite their education and successes, lawyers can experience imposter syndrome like anyone else. The further you advance along your career path, the more likely you are to experience the self-doubt and sense of perfectionism that imposter syndrome brings.

Fortunately, there are ways to challenge these self-defeating thoughts and get a healthier, more realistic understanding of your abilities. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Focus on the Facts

Impostor syndrome makes you believe you aren’t good at your job. These feelings are often rooted in fear, not reality. In order to combat impostor syndrome, you need to separate your feelings from the facts. 

For example, the next time you’re in a situation that makes you feel like an impostor, consider the facts. For example, if you feel insecure after speaking up in a firm meeting, focus on how your colleagues actually responded to what you said. Did they approve of your feedback and ideas? If so, you’re doing great.

Look for Evidence

Fight your feelings with the evidence. Impostor syndrome usually isn’t based on facts, so tackle those feelings by looking at the facts. Lawyers deal with this a lot, which is ironic considering they are often called upon to examine and challenge evidence, making this a great exercise for their skills.

If you feel like you aren’t getting your work done on time, review your most recent cases to see if these feelings are based in fact. If they are, you have identified something you can work on and improve upon. If not, use these facts every time you feel like you’re not good enough. 

Reframe Your Thoughts

Our thoughts have a lot of power. The way we perceive the world—and ourselves—shapes our reality in both positive and negative ways. If you mentally berate yourself often, start monitoring your inner voice and change it whenever possible.

The next time you make a mistake, try telling yourself, “That wasn’t my best work, but I’ll do better next time.” By changing your mental language, you rewire your brain to become more supportive when mistakes happen (and they will).


In most cases, the best way to beat imposter syndrome is to face it head-on. By celebrating your accomplishments, forgiving your mistakes, and using facts to guide your self-assessments, you can prevent imposter syndrome from impacting the successful career you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

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