Thursday 25 January 2018

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Victoria Moffatt’s top tips for lawyers

Having been in business for 5 years (go me!), I recently sat down to think about what I’ve learned during that period. Cash is king, obviously. Don’t forget about VAT, and have your accountant on speed dial *Hi Darren, Leonherman - important life lessons it seems... But I also realised that a lack of confidence, or perhaps Imposter Syndrome, is something I sometimes see with female solicitor clients when it comes to making the most out of media relations opportunities. I've set out my suggestions for anybody trying dealing with it further down the page.

NB: My advice is focused upon broadcast opportunities, but is also applicable to print or online.

First - a bit of background: I am lucky enough to work with, and have worked with some truly exceptional clients. And I now realise that they all have something in common - big kahunas. At LexRex, we don't seek 'big law', regional leaders or multi-disciplinaries; we like boutiques. Small, agile businesses like ours, run by ambitious, level-headed lawyers who 'get' PR and want to be all over it.

Even amongst such ballsy practitioners though (and I have some BIG personalities on the books), I have noticed a certain reticence sometimes amongst female clients in particular, to grab an opportunity with BBC Breakfast, or jump all over a breaking news story. 

These are significant business women, with many years' experience. They have no fear (as far as I can tell) and will release the equivalent of an atomic bomb to win a case if they need to. So why the lack of confidence when it comes to media relations?

These are the reasons most commonly cited:
1. Anxiety around being asked something they don't know about
2. Concern that they are underqualified to discuss the topic
3. Fear of the unknown

1. Anxiety around being asked something they don't know about
I completely understand this. However, unless you are under the cosh for something your organisation has done or failed to do, and you are answering for it - you don't need to worry.

Media opportunities for solicitors tend to revolve around high profile cases/claims, situations that have arisen which may lead to claims, celebrity or human interest matters, or stories that arise at certain times of the year - 'divorce day' in January being an obvious one.

Securing an opportunity in the media around any of the above circumstances means that the broadcaster is looking for an opinion and/or legal advice. Basically the same as you would give to any client. They trust that you are an expert in your field, and want to hear your advice or comments. They will be friendly, because you are doing them a favour - they are on your side!

Of course, your concerns are valid, but can be quickly dealt with by your PR representative asking the producer exactly what they require in advance. 

Further, a good PR will brief you in detail, can probably find similar segments from earlier shows to show you the format, will certainly accompany you to the studio and stay with you throughout. You need to ensure you do know what you are talking about of course, so read up on the circumstances and ensure your knowledge is up to date. Simples.

Taking the long view, media training is also something to consider if you are seeking to raise your profile using broadcast media. It is worth its weight in gold, in terms of your confidence and also your PR's in knowing that you are prepared to go in front of a camera or microphone.

2. Concern that they are underqualified to discuss the topic
Quite a simple one here - if you are good enough to practise the law, you are certainly good enough to talk about it. Remember that you have paying clients who appreciate your advice and action. Media relations is no different - your advice is valued and your views are valid. 

As I mentioned above, as long as you are well prepared and understand what is required of you, there is no reason for you not to participate in the opportunity. 

3. Fear of the unknown
I completely get this. The first time I went into ITV I was terrified - and I was just the PR accompanying the client... It is daunting to go into a TV studio - but if you're a litigator, for example, in representing clients in court you already do something day in and day out that would frighten the pants off the majority of the population. And if you're not a litigator, it's worthwhile remembering none-the-less that you are still the most qualified person in the room to discuss the matter in hand.

In any event, you will usually have a bit of time before the broadcast to prepare, and if you are providing comments as a talking head, it's not uncommon to be plonked onto a stool in the middle of a hectic newsroom, and recorded in situ. It really isn't glamorous or especially terrifying. I promise.

In conclusion, yes imposter syndrome is horrible and can threaten to stop you from reaching your full potential in the media. Please, any time that you are feeling the fear - try to overcome it - TV appearances get easier the more frequently you do them. Good luck! I hope you've found this post insightful and if you've enjoyed it, check out the rest on the LexRex blog

By Victoria Moffatt

LexRex is a specialist consultancy providing strategic PR and marketing support to boutique law firms. Our services include media relations, social media support and training, award entries, legal directory submissions and online/offline content.

If you would like to know more about our services, please drop us an email on  You can also tweet us LexRexComms or @vicmoffatt.