Imposter Syndrome: The Legal Profession’s Hidden Epidemic

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Program Chair & Moderator:

Sumeet H. Chugani
Deputy General Counsel, First Vice President
Apple Bank

  • Imposter syndrome is as an individual’s belief of inadequacy that persists in the face of information indicating the opposite is true. The phenomenon is experienced as chronic self-doubt and feelings of intellectual fraud. People of color, women, immigrants, and first-generation college graduates (groups that are significantly underrepresented in law firm partnerships, judiciary, and amongst attorney practice generally) are all haunted by imposter syndrome—the idea that their success is an accident and that it is merely a matter of time before they are exposed. Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez utilized the term in a recent The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast when describing her initial feelings after being sworn in and her struggle to acclimate herself to her new position. Imposter syndrome is particularly prevalent in industries whose management and leaders are dominated by white men, such as the law. The effects of unconscious bias, micro aggressions, and “the old boys network,” contribute to minorities feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. This program will assist attorneys to (1) better understand the psychological underpinnings of imposter syndrome; (2) recognize and address the symptoms that feed imposter syndrome; (3) assess the pitfalls caused by imposter syndrome (i.e. second-guessing) in the law firm social structure and legal guidance, and (4) establish concrete steps and methods to overcome of the self-doubt caused by imposter syndrome to strength the legal work and law firm status of unrepresented groups.

    Specifically, the goals of the CLE are to:

    • Discuss the psychological root cause for imposter syndrome, including why marginalized populations tend to experience the phenomenon at greater incidence, and how this manifests in the legal world and particularly in law firms
    • Assess the damaging impact of imposter syndrome to attorney work product, trustworthiness, and leadership
    • Provide techniques that marginalized attorneys groups, such as, women and people of color, can utilize to detect and overcome symptoms of imposter syndrome
    • Equip attorney mentors and practice group leaders with an understanding of Imposter Syndrome, the ability to see symptoms, and the tools to address the phenomenon to reverse the trouble tends of minority lawyer attrition/under performance

    Live Program & Webcast:
     Free for Members | $50 for Nonmembers

  • Kimberly Banks MacKay  
    Senior Vice-President and General Counsel
    The Segal Group

    Robin Nunn
    Dechert LLP

    Neha Sampat

  • 6:00 pm- 6:15 pm Panelist Introduction and Topic Introduction
    6:15 pm – 6:45 pm
    • What is Imposter Syndrome and how does it manifest in a legal setting?
    • What is the psychological root cause for Imposter Syndrome for attorneys?
    • Why do marginalized, underrepresented attorney populations face this phenomenon at greater incidence?
    6:45 pm – 7:20 pm
    • What are the symptoms? How has this phenomenon impacted (1) attorney work product, (2) attorney-client trustworthiness, (3) case decision-making, and (4) firm management/compensation/elevation?
    • Breaking through the Imposter Syndrome barriers: Techniques used by attorneys to detect and overcome Imposter Syndrome [proven techniques from our panelists].
    • Tools to address the phenomenon at a greater scale to reverse trouble trends of minority lawyer attrition and under performance.
    7:20 pm -7:30 pm
    • Is solving Imposter Syndrome a personal issue or a larger law firm-success and Bar-at-large barrier?
    • Q/A with the audience

  • CLE Credit
    New York:
    1.5 Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias
    New Jersey:
    1.5 General
    1.5 General
    1.0 General

  • This program has been generously sponsored by:

    Sponsoring Association Committee:

    Minorities in the Courts, Christine Alexandria Rodriguez, Chair
    Minorities in the Profession, Jonathan Waldauer & Johan Tatoy, Co-Chairs

    Sponsorship Opportunities are Available! Please Contact:
    Angie Avila, Manager, Membership Outreach and Sponsorships | (212) 382-6608 |