On the first day of class I watched as the room filled with my new classmates. They were all at least a few years younger than me, although I was not considered a ‘mature’ student. As the class went on, I struggled to understand the topics, I could not take down notes fast enough, I could not answer any of the questions and with each class that went on, I hit a major point in which I worried ‘is law really for me’?
Looking back, I realise now that I was struggling with Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is when a person doubts their achievements and intelligence and convinces themselves that they are a fraud. They then have this worry that someone is sooner or later, going to find out they are a fraud. It was a major element living in the back of my mind, constantly reminding me that I was not good enough, and yet I had no idea it was even a real thing.
I began my legal journey by obtaining a business apprenticeship at a law firm in Margate. I had previously been told by my A Level mentor that I was not smart enough to go to university and she advised me not to apply. I was actually taken off of the attendance list for a class that guided students through their university applications. As a result of this, I decided that an apprenticeship was the only way forward so that I could still obtain a legal career.
This law firm was my first experience in the legal world, it was not the best, but it got me on the legal ladder. It was a very stressful job. I worked my absolute hardest and felt like I was fighting a losing battle most days. I remember getting into the office at least an hour before everyone else so that I could cry at the desk without anyone seeing me.
All I ever wanted was to become a lawyer and make a difference in the legal world. I wanted to help those who had been wronged achieve justice in our complicated system and to give a voice to those who struggled to be heard.
During one particularly bad day at the office, I opened the internet to search something up and a pop-up appeared with the deadline for university applications. I remember thinking ‘what else could possibly go wrong?’ and I bit the bullet and applied to study law at two local universities. To my surprise, I got acceptance offers to both.
I did not have the grade requirements to go to university. I was enrolled onto a ‘certificate route’ course, with the knowledge that, if I passed the first year, I could go on to study the course as an LLB student for my second and third year.
I decided to study the first year of my law degree part-time so that I could continue to keep my job at the Margate firm. It was not easy learning to work and attend classes, but I made it work.
After two years at the Margate firm, I decided to leave in search of a new adventure. I found an opportunity for a legal assistant at a firm in Canterbury and they offered to support me by fitting my work hours around my classes.
Fast-forward almost three years and I am still working as a legal assistant in Canterbury. I am about to graduate my law degree this summer and I have just accepted an offer to study the LPC full-time in September with the University of Law.
I have also become a member of the General Purposes Committee with the Kent Law Society and an Ambassador for the Young Legal Ladies, two achievements I am really proud of. I also became a mentor for first year students and helped guide them through their first year at university.
I still suffer with Imposter Syndrome as, unfortunately, it is not something that just ‘goes away’. There are days when I barely suffer and I have really good days, but there are also some days where I do question my career aspirations in the legal industry and whether I am making a mistake.
When I have those bad days, I like to remind myself of everything I have achieved and how far I have come and above all, I remind myself of how many people I have proved wrong.
So, if there is any advice I could give you from what I have learnt so far, it would be this… do not listen to anyone who says you cannot do something or you cannot cope. You are more than capable and you are going to do amazing things. Chase your dreams and do not let anyone stop you. If I can do it, you definitely can.
You can follow Tara’s legal journey on her Instagram account.
For more inspirational stories of some fascinating legal persons, make sure to check out the Legal Diaries segment of our website for more entries.