I think I made a mistake becoming an attorney. I am way too stupid for this. As in I lack the ability to make the simplest logical decisions or rational choices. I guess it’s time to find a career more fitting my mental capabilities.

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Given the time of day, I’m going to guess that you’re not operating on a ton of sleep and rest, which impairs anyone’s rational ability. Mistakes happen, and very few mistakes in the law are unfixable. Hopefully you can get some rest and things will seem better in the morning ?

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OP, it’s very hard for us to respond because we aren’t working with you day to day. Your example seems like a mistake, nothing more. Let me offer a different perspective.

My spouse got a BA/MA in 4 years with a 3.8 gpa from a top school and is objectively very smart. Went to law school for one semester, worked super hard and got poor grades in the first semester. Was totally bored and dropped out. Many years later my spouse has had a very successful career and we’ve talked alot about how the thinking process for a lawyer isn’t her natural thinking process. My lawyer thinking skills would have failed at my spouse’s career.

Perhaps you are in the wrong career. But it isn’t about you being not smart. I think if I were you I would line up some sessions with a career coach and an assessment person and a therapist, take 2 weeks off and devote yourself to a self- examination to see your strengths and interests. A law degree opens many doors, they don’t all have to be to a private law firm.

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SA1, I disagree. Not so much disagreeing about the part about my fiancé because I’m sure he would make it through law school, but I think it’d be harder for him because it’s not his style of learning. However, generally speaking, I don’t think that being objectively smart equates to being good at everything you set out to do.

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You are being quite hard on yourself. If you made it through law school and passed the bar, you know how to think like a lawyer. You may just lack confidence. That comes from practice.

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I've had these exact thoughts. Here's a tip I learned from my social work education: complete a detailed self-assessment of yourself from birth to present day. This self-assessment should include childhood illnesses, accomplishments, how you interacted with your peers, strengths, weaknesses, etc. For me at least, this allowed me to view myself in a more objective and less self-deprecating way. You might find that some of your perceived weaknesses are actually weaknesses, but a number of them will actually be strengths. Or you'll find that you possess strengths that combat your perceived weaknesses. Just a thought. Imposter syndrome is real and can be treacherous to your career.

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Wow! This is such an amazing tip! As a second career lawyer with a social work background, I can attest to this self-assessment being helpful to have in those moments of self-doubt. Thank you for the tip!

There really isn’t an excuse — wish I had one. I sleep 8+ hours, not stressed, and everything is okay.

Everything I achieved (law school, bar exam, etc.) was through persistence — not by “being smart” or rational or making logical decisions.

I really don’t think I am intelligent enough to practice law. And I don’t mean the theory or the law itself.

I mean as in, when asked to update a docket for client review — I update the items that are due in six months. Not the ones due in 3 weeks. And yes, I knew exactly when each one was due. (I even organized it in chronological order).

I just didn’t think to update the most pressing items.

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I think an important part of practicing law is to learn as you go. Nobody is perfect and we all learn from our mistakes. Persistence is an important too and you have already achieved that 👏

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Perhaps you have imposter syndrome

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It does not sound like you’re not smart enough, but that there is a disconnect with project management. I agree with what others have said that you are clearly smart enough if you have made it as far as you have. Chatting with a career coach could be helpful, as others have mentioned, but you may also consider getting evaluated for ADD/ADHD or other executive function issues. Diagnosis and treatment could make a huge difference. Even if that’s not the answer, I have found that adopting strategies that are geared toward people with ADD/ADHD can really help anyone (like productivity timers, making lists, calendar apps with reminders and deadlines, etc.). These are skills that can be learned, and they have nothing to do with how “smart” or “dumb” you are.

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This comment is ridiculous. You surely are smarter and more capable than virtually every partner in your firm. You only lack experience. Stop doubting yourself, reach inside, find your strength and go do what you need to in order to succeed. If you need a boost in self-confidence, hit me up. I’m here to help!

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If you’ve come this far, you just need to find your groove honey. Some areas of law aren’t for everyone! I’ll never ever ever practice CPS, divorce and other areas that make me feel like I’m destroying a family (no shade to the attorneys who practice that area WE NEED YOU haha). Find your groove.

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Have you tried getting promoted? This usually works for the simplest people I know.

You might need 2 promotions before it doesn’t affect you professionally anymore.

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Here are some words of advice I was given when a paralegal and what I’ve learned over time:

1. No mistake is bad enough that can’t be fixed so long as you admit the mistake and ask for help (yes even the dreaded statute of limitations can sometimes be fixed).

2. You aren’t meant to no everything. No one knows it all, that’s why it’s called practicing law.

You don’t lack intelligence or interest or else you wouldn’t of made it this far. Imposter syndrome is real, but the kindest voice has to be your own for you to believe in yourself.

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Practicing law is like making jazz OP. Just find a practice area you like, make it yours, and wing the rest. I'm sure you're not stupid but you're probably in the wrong practice.

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I am sorry you are feeling so down and are so hard on yourself. I think the idea for a career coach is an excellent one. I am not sure it is a question of intelligence so much as a lack of interest in what the practice of law means day-to-day.

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I also wondered if perhaps you are suffering from ADHD. I would agree with others that you should take the time to get assessed medically and spend some time with a career coach who can assess you before you just give up the entire practice of law in frustration. Many of the partners I worked for were super smart but not “in the weeds of the details” thinkers. They were great at developing a complicated strategy but terrible at the details of project management.

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There are no mistakes, only choices. It may well be that you are just not inspired. I myself do not shine when I do. It like what I am doing. Hence my exit from corporate law; law firm settings etc .. So give yourself a break and think about what lights you up and move confidently and lovingly in that direction. You are enough.

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It’s reassuring how many supportive comments there are on this thread. The support is out there, and that’s as good a reason as any to feel inspired.

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We all question ourselves at times. Law is not science it is a practice. I have been practicing 27 years and still question myself and my choices all the time. That is the nature of what we do. Except that do your best and you’ll be fine. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

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Do you have a trusted colleague or trusted partner you can bounce this idea off of? I struggled with a specific issue in my career and it wasn’t until I shared this with a few others that I found out that my own perception of myself was completely off base from what partners and senior associates thought of me (and what they thought of me was a pleasant surprise that I was not aware of!). It may be helpful to get some perspective. And even if you don’t get perspective, you may get some good advice from people who work with you regularly.

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Don’t be so hard on yourself. I recommend slowing down to give yourself some space to think. Before you do any task, stop and think about the big picture. Why am I doing this? What’s the end goal? What are we trying to get at here? How could I organize the information/task to best serve that? It’s a common mistake I see in some junior associates that miss the mark. In the end I think it’s a more simple fix than you could imagine!

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