No imposters! Ashurst launches course in imposter syndrome

November 15, 2021

3 min read

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What's going on here?

Law firm Ashurst is extending the firm’s Virtual Experience Programme with a new e-learning module dedicated to tackling feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.  

What does this mean?

Imposter syndrome is defined as persistent feelings of inadequacy and “feeling like a fraud.” People experiencing imposter syndrome may also feel that anything they achieve or any opportunities offered to them are purely due to luck or even a mistake. Carolyn O’Connor (HR Manager, National Early Careers Programs at Ashurst) notes that imposter feelings can even “limit professional choices or career advancement if not confronted.” Ashurst’s “You are Extraordinary” module not only enables participants to better understand imposter syndrome, but it also explains how to build resilience to help tackle feelings of self-doubt when they arise. The firm aims to help aspiring lawyers gain a broader sense of success and achievement that transcends traditional accomplishments such as exam results or securing a training contract offer.

What's the big picture effect?

In 2019, the Junior Lawyers Division reported that 80% of junior solicitors had experienced feelings of imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. The Covid-19 pandemic may have increased the likelihood of self-doubt amongst some trainees and junior lawyers in the absence of in-person support and supervision. The lack of in-person feedback on work and the pressure to not make mistakes, whilst working long hours from home, could cause anyone to stress about whether they are good enough. The LexisNexis Bellwether Report 2020 found that more than half of law firms stated that staff well-being and morale was one of their top concerns during the lockdown. As the way we work changes for the foreseeable future, employees at all levels should have access to a proper support network, be it virtual or in-person, to help prevent staff from feeling inadequate. The launch of Ashurst’s course shines a light on this issue, by helping prepare emerging talent to be self-aware and proactive when they start to doubt themselves.

By launching the course, Ashurst demonstrates its commitment to fostering a “strong culture for social impact and enhancing social mobility.” Besides providing a virtual learning programme, the firm has set targets to have at least 35% ethnically diverse trainees, of whom 13% will be Black trainees. Ashurst is working towards the targets diligently; the firm nurtures talent through its flagship social mobility programme, Access Ashurst, and uses Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment tool to identify high performing, disadvantaged students. These strategies have not gone unnoticed. Ashurst won “Recruitment Programme of the Year” at the UK Social Mobility Awards in 2020 and was recently awarded the “Best Social Mobility Initiative” at the People in Law Awards 2021 for its inclusive recruitment. 

Ashurst’s course ensures any candidate, regardless of background, can pursue their career journey with the right mindset. Since the course teaches participants how to speak positively about their achievements during interviews,  many students from disadvantaged backgrounds could benefit from this. Courses designed to target imposter syndrome could eventually encourage far more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue a career in commercial law. 

Overall, the launch of this course marks a broader focus on the many barriers to entering the legal profession, which includes mindset. The journey towards qualifying as a solicitor can be trying, due to competitive application processes and the pressure to secure a training contract. Ashurst’s course could potentially help students develop the resilience needed to succeed in a legal career.

Report written by Natasha Dayananda

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