Law school attracts a uniquely wonderful group of people. Law students are typically high-achievers, but the problem with being a high-achiever is that it can make you susceptible to imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where a person experiences feelings of inadequacy and fear that they will be exposed as a fraud. These feeling are generally not constant and can alternate with feelings of extreme confidence. As Tina Fey once explained it, "The beauty of the imposter syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: 'I'm a fraud! Oh God, they're on to me! I'm a fraud!’” This can make it exceptionally difficult to understand or articulate how you feel.
Law school is the perfect breeding ground for this affliction and the disassociation that it causes can impact students’ performance and morale. So what can you do if you are experience these feelings of inadequacy?
You’re not alone
The first thing to realise is that you’re not alone. It’s likely that the majority of your law school friends have experienced imposter syndrome at some point. If your friend is experiencing imposter syndrome, it is important to be there for them and to reassure them. It’s equally important to have someone supportive there for you in the moments when you lack confidence in your degree. If you don’t have anyone around you that understands, which can often be the case for off-campus students, never underestimate the value of a counselling service to help put things back in a positive light for you and build your confidence.
Attending functions, interacting with peers and sharing experiences can be incredibly valuable to your morale while you attend law school. If you are unable to, for work, medical or other reasons, the next best thing is to join law student forums and follow law school blogs. These online communities will still help to provide you with a strong sense of belonging.
You belong at law school
You have put in the hard work (unless you are like the incredibly irritating Mike Ross) and you have been recognised for your efforts by being given a place at law school. Understand what a huge accomplishment this is and congratulate yourself. You’re meant to be at law school so try to enjoy the journey as much as possible.
You can do this
Don’t let the anxiety about feeling inadequate take over. Recognise and understand that these are normal feelings of imposter syndrome and that it is not unusual for law students to experience these feelings. Use this knowledge to empower you in your studies rather than impede you.
And if at the end of all of this you still feel a bit like a fraud, just remember that you can fake it until you make it!
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