Ultra Vires


Halloween Campfire Stories for the Law Student

Spooky retellings of old classics

Cursed Counsel

There was a new 1L who really loved statues and busts of famous lawyers. She had a big collection of them in her condo unit. On the first day of law school, as she walked through Flavelle House for the very first time, she noticed a particularly beautiful bust. Bora Laskin would make a perfect addition to her collection. She only hoped that it would be up for sale.

“How much is that bust, ma’am?” she asked the librarian behind the counter.

“This bust is not for sale,” replied the librarian, frowning.

“But it’s so beautiful,” said the girl. “I really want it.”

The old woman became irritated. “I told you, it’s not for sale,” she said.

“Why not?” persisted the overly keen 1L student.

“Because in addition to just being a display, this bust is cursed!”

“Well…that’s okay. I don’t mind.”

“I really can’t sell it to you, as it’s not for sale. But I’ll tell you what, it’s about time to replace the display with the next Chief Justice anyway, so you can have it. But if something bad happens, don’t blame me.”

“Ah! Yes, thank you! What’s the worst that could happen, an LP on my first assignment?” laughed the 1L student haughtily. Smiling, she grabbed the bust and walked out of Flavelle House, ignoring the whispers and nervous looks of other 1Ls around her.

That 1L student was so delighted to obtain the bust for free that she ran all the way home, carrying it in her arms. When she got home to her tall Toronto condo building, she went into the lobby. It was completely deserted. She stood there waiting for one of the four elevators to arrive. Two were always down for maintenance, and one was always being used as a moving elevator—who knows when the last elevator would come.

Finally, the elevator dinged on the ground floor. The doors opened and she stepped inside, clutching her new Bora Laskin bust tightly.

The doors closed. But the elevator did not move.

The 1L got scared and began trembling with fear.

“Oh my god,” she said to herself. “Is this the curse of the bust?”

Suddenly she felt the bust move in her arms.

Ever so slowly, its head turned to face her.

The 1L student wanted to scream but couldn’t make a sound. This was the end. She would never get that 1L firm job now.

The eyelids fluttered and opened. It stared at her with its lifeless metal eyes.

Then its mouth opened and said, “Push the button to go up, lady!”

Beautiful metallic bust of former Chief Justice Bora Laskin. Credit: Fievel Lim

Cemetery Seance

Denning and Dickson were very keen 2L students. Law school folklore held that you could stir up a spirit from an old tombstone in an ancient cemetery and ask them to predict your future at law school. The 2Ls went to the cemetery at night and set up their recorder on a particularly large and ornate tombstone. They were afraid to shine their flashlights on the stone to see the name engraved there, as they wanted to avoid the caretaker chasing them out.

Dickson turned the recorder on and said, “We would like to speak to whoever lies beneath this stone.” In response, all they heard was a faint scratching noise that seemed to come from beneath the ground.

With a calm voice, Denning requested, “Please tell us if we will get the courses we want in 3L.”

Again, the only response was a scratching noise, so Dickson said, “We also wish to know our chances at OCIs. Please show yourself.”

Suddenly, both young men felt the air turn cold, and a tall, dark shadow arose behind them. The shadow moved to engulf them. Denning and Dickson were not afraid, having survived 1L recruit last year. They both realized too late that the apparition meant to do harm to their law careers. The shadow swept down, engulfing them, and pulled them into the ground beneath the tombstone.

The next morning, the caretaker of the cemetery found the recorder on the ground by the tombstone. He turned it on, and after each question, he heard the following responses:

“Yes…I am here.”

“You will never get the courses you want.”

“If I show myself, it will be the last thing you will ever see. Don’t even think about getting OCIs.”

“Too slow!”

The caretaker quietly picked up the recorder. Knowing that this was the only remaining evidence of the students’ visit, he went to his tool shed and tossed the recorder into a pile with all the others.

Walking back to the tombstone, he sighed. Another two names to be added now. 

Just one name was ornately engraved in large letters above them all.


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