The Hero(ine)’s Legal Journey: Part Two

Find Part One here!

Second Stage: The Supreme Ordeal (1L Year)

The second stage itself has two parts: (1) a descent and (2) an ascent.

The Descent: Semester One

The descent involves wonderful and terrible experiences, just like the first semester of law school. Here the hero(ine) usually “approaches the inmost cave,” i.e. enters a space of self-reflection or self-evaluation. This certainly occurs during your first semester. Not only are you beset with feelings of knowing very little about a very important topic, but you also may spend a deal of time evaluating yourself against your peers. This process can make you feel empowered at times and powerless at others.

The Inmost Cave

The Inmost Cave

At some point, the hero(ine) meets the “shadow self” in a moment of atonement or realization of the hero(ine)’s future potential. This is Luke Skywalker letting the force guide his actions as he disengages his targeting system and destroying the first Death Star. For a first semester law student, it might be the first time you successfully perform on cold call, or when you begin to understand how to successfully read a case and brief it.

Of course, the Descent also features some kind of ordeal or dismemberment, where the hero(ine) loses something meaningful or becomes lost after a moment of defeat. For me this was likely the process of receiving honest and critical feedback on some of my writing assignments last semester. I have been an enthusiastic and self-critical writer my whole life, and the years I spent teaching writing and honing my craft in grad school grew naturally from that passion. But legal writing is quite a different thing and learning how to do it effectively was a painful process for me. It was back to the drawing board in many ways. In retrospect, the errors I made in my writing last semester seems so elementary. But no matter how capable or prepared you feel going into law school, it will find a way to challenge you!

A Boon

A Boon

After feeling momentarily lost and defeated, however, the hero(ine) receives a “Boon” or powerful enhancement. A new lightsaber? An invisibility cloak? A broken sword re-forged and made anew by the elves? My Boon was probably the offer I received after the winter holidays to work this coming summer for a judge! After receiving critical feedback, running the gauntlet of winter exams, and generally coping with the long darkness of winter, this extension of opportunity felt like a validation and promise of wonderful things to come!

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