For many young lawyers, the symptoms are distinctive: feeling inadequate, incompetent and fraudulent; dismissing past successes and achievements as luck or flukes; questioning competence despite evidence to the contrary. This self-doubt is especially crippling because it raises questions central to one’s identity: Am I meant to be here?; Will people find out I don’t belong?; Should I really be a lawyer? A potential diagnosis is imposter syndrome, a concept that may feel familiar to many professionals, including attorneys, and to millennials in particular.
Issues relevant to millennials—generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1997—affect a broad group of individuals, ranging from those finishing undergraduate studies and contemplating law school to newly minted partners. By 2025, millennials will account for over one-half of all attorneys practicing law in the United States.
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