The term ‘imposter syndrome” was first coined in 1970 by clinical psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. It describes the experience of successful individuals who feel they are not deserving of their success. These individuals are constantly waiting to be exposed as “frauds.”
Although imposter syndrome is in every profession, it is particularly prevalent in high-pressure careers. This is likely due to the competitive nature of legal and medical jobs and the high expectations placed on lawyers and doctors to perform at a consistently high level.
Law Firms and Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome can harm both individual lawyers and the legal profession as a whole. For individual lawyers, imposter syndrome leads to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, which may affect job performance. Additionally, this syndrome can make lawyers less likely to take risks in their practice or be innovative because they fear being exposed as “not good enough”. Imposter syndrome can also create a work environment where employees do not feel comfortable sharing initiatives or ideas, thereby stifling creativity and innovation.
Steps to Prevent
Creating a supportive work culture to combat imposter syndrome in the legal sector is vital. A positive work culture is one in which employees feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. One way to prevent this syndrome is to implement an in-house action plan. The action plan should be tailored to legal recruits and encourage positive work culture. Mentorship programs can also provide support for new employees who are struggling with trying to find their place and identity in a new work environment. Finally, by taking these steps, the legal profession can create a more welcoming environment for all incoming recruits and improve the turnover rate for prospects.
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