Ashurst to offer course in imposter syndrome

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City firm looks to help aspiring lawyers set broader definitions of ‘success’ and ‘accomplishment’

City law firm Ashurst has launched a new online course that aims to help aspiring lawyers overcome feelings of imposter syndrome.

The new module — which forms part of the firm’s virtual work experience programme — will introduce students to the “phenomenon of self-doubt and imposter feelings and its connection to social identity”.

The free programme, dubbed ‘You are Extraordinary’, also aims to help solicitor hopefuls develop a broader definition of “success” and “accomplishment” which goes beyond traditional measures such as exam results and training contract offers.

It will feature a mix of video presentations and workshops, and consists of five hypothetical tasks that help students understand and learn how to manage feelings of self-doubt and imposter feelings.

The firm says it will also help participants identify their own personal achievements and unique strengths as well as teach them to speak positively about their successes in vac scheme and TC interviews.

“We want people to be as prepared as possible when starting their career journey, so have developed this programme to help emerging talent develop their best sense of self and feelings of confidence,” Carolyn O’Connor, HR manager, national early careers programmes at Ashurst, said. “In addition to creating a degree of anguish and self-doubt, imposter feelings may in some cases limit professional choices or career advancement if they are not confronted.”

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The launch of the module comes as a poll of Legal Cheek readers found that over two-thirds (77%) of respondents had suffered from imposter syndrome.

Andrea Bell, chief people officer at Ashurst, added:

“We are proud to have a strong culture of support for social impact and enhancing social mobility at Ashurst, and our complimentary virtual learning programmes are just one example of the many ways we can ensure that talented young people have the opportunity to upskill and succeed regardless of background.”

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This is a great idea.

There’s an irony. I spend a lot of time telling newly minted barristers that they shouldn’t have any self doubt; and the mere fact they have got where they are shows they deserve to be there. At the same time as I find myself thinking “Why do they let *me* do these courses; I know nothing!”

It’s all very meta.



Wait until a certain firm starts offering NFTs that can be traded for courses in imposter syndrome!



It’s pathetic. “Imposter syndrome” is just people thinking too much about themselves or looking for attention or praise. Do your job and if no-one complains then what’s the issue? This touchy feely crap is getting out of hand. Sorry, if I did not put a trigger warning at the start.



Please stay up North.



Hardly! Much better to rake in the cash outbilling Southerners with their trigger warnings and support rabbits.


D Brent

Ooooh, you’re ard…



You wouldn’t say that to my face, you would wet yourself clutching your teddy bear.

Doctor shrink

I’m just spitballing here but it sounds like someone is using LC as a medium to express deep-rooted childhood trauma.

Magic C

For me it all started with imposter syndrome, then stress and burnout, then anxiety, then anxiety and depression.

All the lip service these firms give to mental health doesn’t count for much and it takes a lot to go wrong for anyone to actually think you need any material help.



Sounds like there were lots of signs you were not cut out for the job but you kept ignoring them.


Career Changer

That’s an unfair thing to say.

When people struggle as a result of not being given the right support or the best environment to work in, it does not mean they are “not cut out” for the legal profession. It means the profession needs to be more flexible for people with different needs and requirements. It’s a key performance indicator for driving diversity/inclusion and creating the best lawyers. That’s the whole point of providing soft skills and resilience promoting courses: so diverse talent is retained by firms.

I have worked in a few different sectors before deciding to pursue a career in law. I have found legal teams usually have either:

a) managers/supervisors who are never offered leadership, coaching or management training; and

b) workplace cultures that expect you to do everything whilst providing little support.

This indicates to me that it’s the profession that is not up-to-date with modern employee requirements/support systems and just sticks with the status quo. It’s not working anymore, and organisations like Ashurst are trying to promote a positive environment.



If there are plenty who can handle it, why pander to those that can’t?


Be better

Given the associate shortage in the City, there clearly aren’t. Not enough to keep up with business need anyway

Career Changer

Are there plenty of people who can “handle” it, or are they just “surviving” it? There’s a difference. Being competent to “handle” something requires experience and training, whether you attain this yourself or through others. You can not become a competent lawyer without support.

I’d rather be the person who asks “why can’t we try something different” than not trying at all. If you think that supporting people is pandering, then that’s part of the problem.


They are, by definition, “not cut out” for the job if they need special treatment to do what everyone else is doing. Law firms are not your mummy. They aren’t there to look after you. That’s why resilience is one of the main things they look out for. Maybe lower tier firms like CMS are more willing to give you the flexibility that you’re talking about but absolutely no serious firm will.


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