I have kept a log of every law school related nightmare I have ever had. I am pretty sure this is a sign that there were some PTSD-causing events in law school. Oddly, I rarely have dreams about the bar exam. Here are some of the weirdest law school related nightmares:

1. In my colleague’s class.  My students tell me which professors are the worst. In my dream, I am about to take a final in this bad professor’s class. I have never been in this class before, have not studied, and I know full well I’m going to fail.

Waking up from this dream, I think it most likely that professors would fail each other’s exams, as law is particularly specialized. Unless you teach in an area with another professor, a prof would likely fail another prof’s exam.

2. Teaching a subject I dislike/don’t know.  In another instance, I was in front of a class. The students are carrying what are clearly Federal Income Tax books. Now, unless you are a tax professor, this is a nightmare. Sure, I can wax rhapsodic about tax policy and progressive and regressive taxes, but what am I going to do after the first class? The horror…the horror….

This nightmare has compelled me to branch out in my teaching. I don’t like to teach the same courses over and over. I mix it up. I now feel I could teach FIT if compelled to do so. At gunpoint. If there were lives at stake.

3. Why am I not dressed appropriately?  In some nightmares, not only have I returned to law school, but I am missing a vital piece of clothing or two. Often it is my shoes. I’m thinking this signifies that I am trapped. Sometimes, vital accessories are missing, like my laptop or book.

Of course, most students have the feeling that they are missing something. The fear of the unknown is strong, in particular with the first year students. What will the prof ask? What am I supposed to take from this? One thing is clear: Always bring your shoes.

4. The exam is in a different language or is math. I really love it when the exams I’m taking in my nightmares look like something out of a horror flick called “calculus.” Or often times, it’s all Greek to me. Literally. Or maybe Swahili. It doesn’t matter, because there is no way I’m going to pass this exam because I don’t know the language.

5. Feats of Strength.  Yes, exactly like that. I was forced to wrestle my contracts professor over my interpretation of Promissory Estoppel. I was able to defeat him, but the problem then became he cut my grade for bad participation.

6. Infinite Bluebooking. I was forced to edit an article for law review. The problem was that I had to find a source for the word “however.” They refused to let me use a dictionary. To make things worse, it was my article.

7. The Sing along. In one dream, I was force to sing and play guitar in order to keep the students entertained. My inability to play guitar probably would deflect attention from my terrible singing voice.

My take on the dreams is that law school is a transformation process. This is not just some sort of skills training taking place here. It is a fundamental shift, a change in the way you think. Even as you embrace this change, your subconscious rebels against it.

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