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  • Writer's pictureReema Doleh

Tackling Imposter Syndrome With Mentorship

Updated: Jun 15

Imposter syndrome is a delicate dance between confidence and insecurity that many first-generation students often find themselves performing. As a 1L at Harvard Law School, you are not solely on a journey to tackle complex legal doctrine but also confronting the deep-seated fear that you don’t truly belong in this storied institution. It can be a daunting task to figure out the intricacies of pursuing a legal education at Harvard Law. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone.

Student groups survey their 1Ls to gauge legal interests, personality, and communication styles to find a mentor that aligns with their professional and personal interests. These groups can range from identity-based groups (known as “affinity groups”) like Harvard’s Black Law Students Association to interest-based groups such as the Harvard Plaintiffs’ Law Association. As first-generation students with multifaceted, complex backgrounds, it is important to have a diverse group of mentors who can champion your needs and help you demystify law school and the legal profession.

Mentorship requires strong relationship building. Through informal coffee chats and lunches (often funded by student organizations), I learned more about my mentor’s academic and professional journey. I found that many of my mentors faced similar obstacles as me, and learned tips and tricks to tackle those obstacles.

Each student mentor, typically a 2L or 3L at the Law School, offers a wide range of support. For example, when I spoke to my WLA mentor about entering law school as an undergraduate finance major, she recommended organizations that leveraged my finance background, including the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project and the Harvard Association of Law and Business. When I shared the stresses of navigating the financial burden of law school with my mentor from First Class, he recommended scholarship opportunities for first-generation students and other on-campus opportunities, like research assistant and teaching fellow positions, to help lessen the burden.

I was excited to venture on the journey of law school. However, I found myself navigating unfamiliar waters. It is natural to feel insecure or unsure of yourself in an institution unlike any space you have been in before, but do not be afraid to rely on your peers, professors, and/or mentors for guidance throughout your journey.

I want to remind every first-generation student that you belong here and there are so many people ready to support you on your journey. - Reema Doleh ’25,

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