Imposter syndrome...how to deal

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d199

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Imposter syndrome...how to deal

Post by d199 » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:33 pm

Hey TLS,

I'm a recent grad studying for the bar. I have horrific (debilitating!) imposter syndrome. My LSAT was sub 25% for the T14 I attended. My 1L grades were below the median. Because of my grades and LSAT, I never felt smart enough to be around my peers. Granted, my grades improved 2L. But I still feel ~stupid~ most days.

I managed to get a job 2L, clerking with a regional office in a state where I have ties. I sent them my resume (GPA and all like a dumbass), and they hired me the next day. My time there was ok. But I always felt like everyone knew that ~I~ was the clerk with low grades. The other summer clerks I worked with were top of their class at a regional school.

Flash forward to now. I'm going to start as an associate at this firm in August. But boy do I have imposter syndrome. I'm wondering if TLSers have similar experiences or tips on how to handle this. Being a lawyer is stressful. But constantly feeling "less than" because of my grades will make it way worse. I go to therapy, try to stay positive, have a mental health regimen (meds and the whole thing). But this is gonna be killer. Any tips for getting over it?

And to be frank, the fact that most lawyers have imposter syndrome is not going to make me feel better given the above circumstances.

Thank you for any advice!

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RunnerRunner

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Re: Imposter syndrome...how to deal

Post by RunnerRunner » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:22 pm

I think your assessment of yourself in comparison to your peers, especially at your place of employment, is way off. You are looking at your colleagues thinking "they have better grades than me, I'm not good enough," but they are looking at you thinking "OP went to a better school than me, I'm not good enough." You got into a t14. That's pretty exceptional. You should be proud of that, regardless of if you were below the LSAT 25th percentile (especially because if you were below that percentile, you are exceptional in other ways that impressed your school). You're definitely not stupid--there is a reason your school picked you, and a reason your employer hired you so quickly.

I think that no matter what, people always think they're not quite good enough. In the legal profession it looks something like this: people outside USNWR ranked law schools wish they had gotten into a USNWR ranked law school; people at USNWR ranked schools outside the t14 wish they had gotten into the t14; people in the t14 without a clerkship wish they had gotten a clerkship; people with a clerkship wish they had clerked on the Supreme Court; people who clerked on the Supreme Court, er... wish they were justices or something, and on and on. (That skips a lot of distinctions, but you get the idea.)

I don't have any specific tips for dealing with your impostor syndrome (hopefully someone else does). But from an objective outsider's perspective, I just think you are being way too hard on yourself. Keep your chin up.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Imposter syndrome...how to deal

Post by LBJ's Hair » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:45 pm

I'm a little confused. Why do you even...care...if they know you got bad grades? They went to shittier law schools than you. You're all incoming associates at some law firm, not clerks for Merrick Garland.

Perhaps this is harsh, but: None of you are superstars. And that's ok. Life isn't a competition.
Last edited by LBJ's Hair on Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:00 pm, edited 4 times in total.

nixy

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Re: Imposter syndrome...how to deal

Post by nixy » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:53 pm

1) the LSAT and law school grades are not remotely close to being an objective measure of ability to be a good lawyer
2) even if they were, yours are objectively fine (you were being measured on a forced curve against people who collectively fall within a pretty narrow slice of grades/LSAT)

I realize the above probably isn't helpful because facts don't really alter your emotions, but those are the facts. TBH, what has helped me the most has been 1) actually accomplishing stuff as a lawyer and realizing I'm not incompetent (I don't like that this is dependent on outside affirmation rather than internal growth, but it's true), and 2) actually working with other lawyers at my level of experience and realizing that they're not all that and a bag of chips. I have a ton of really smart and wonderful colleagues, but imposter syndrome tends to take for granted the things that you actually have accomplished, presume that everyone else can do those things, and assume that everyone else is universally smarter and better than you. Working with people makes you realize they're not.

nixy

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Re: Imposter syndrome...how to deal

Post by nixy » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:55 pm

RunnerRunner wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:22 pm
I think that no matter what, people always think they're not quite good enough. In the legal profession it looks something like this: people outside USNWR ranked law schools wish they had gotten into a USNWR ranked law school; people at USNWR ranked schools outside the t14 wish they had gotten into the t14; people in the t14 without a clerkship wish they had gotten a clerkship; people with a clerkship wish they had clerked on the Supreme Court; people who clerked on the Supreme Court, er... wish they were justices or something, and on and on. (That skips a lot of distinctions, but you get the idea.)
I so agree with this. People don't compare themselves to the people behind them, but the people ahead; someone with a 90th percentile LSAT score doesn't think about the fact that they scored higher than 90% of the people who took it, but only thinks about the 10% who scored higher than they did.

Anon-non-anon

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Re: Imposter syndrome...how to deal

Post by Anon-non-anon » Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:53 pm

+1 to all of the above. Nobody else is thinking about your grades / LSAT or whatever. It's much more likely that to the extent anyone distinguishes between members of your class (they shouldnt and likely wont), your t14 will look more impressive than their honors.

Remember that you'll make mistakes, that's okay. Be proud of each thing you do, much will feel tedious but every once in a while, you'll feel like you did a real lawyer thing and it will feel good.

1000s of others are in the same boat. You're there bc you deserve to be.

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