The Spooks and Scares of Being a 1L

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With Halloween right around the corner, let’s talk about the scariest parts of law school. Now that I’m almost two months into the semester, it is starting to get downright terrifying here at Columbia, and here’s why:

The Ghostly Specter of Final Exams
Nowadays, the mere reference to finals is enough to send me into a minor panic attack. You know the tick-tick-tick sound that accompanies the steep incline of a roller coaster? Right before a sudden, heart-stopping plunge? That is exactly how everything feels right now—there is this slow, steady build-up to the furious intensity and all-consuming stress that will go along with preparing for and taking exams. Up until this point, it’s been easy to push the thought out of my mind and put off worrying about it, but now I find myself seeing the malignant shadow of impending finals at every turn.

The Undying Piles of Rotten Reading
If you’ve ever watched the Friday the 13th movies (or any other horror series that focuses on a central villain), you have seen the same nefarious character brought back to life or reincarnated time and time again, to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting group of impossibly beautiful young adults. It’s the same in law school, except in our case daily reading assignments are the resurrected villains, and they wreak havoc on a not-so-beautiful group of young adults. Every day brings with it new terror, as we try to piece together convoluted cases and diabolical doctrines so that we can go to class and not make complete fools of ourselves in front of our classmates and professors.

The Terrible Uncertainty of Impending Doom
Alright, that heading might be a little hyperbolic, but bear with me… Sometimes the scariest thing is the unknown; just ask master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock or all these inspirational quotes. In law school, the suspense is usually drawn out over the course of years and doesn’t end up with anyone dying. Instead, we face the suspense and uncertainty that goes along with an over-saturated legal market and a shrinking pool of job opportunities. At Columbia, the uncertainty is a little less pronounced, but there is still a real possibility of striking out and not finding a job. If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I’m having a very positive experience in school so far and I am enjoying it. But there is still a huge amount of pressure and stress here. I may have embellished the horror a little bit, but I do want to emphasize that there are a lot of grave considerations to take into account when deciding whether or not to go to law school. It’s not a decision to take lightly.

But for now, go enjoy some Halloween candy or put the finishing touches on your Halloween costume. I’ll be studying…

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