Who’s at Legal Fault in Friday the 13th?

Cara Fialkoff’s CLE explores what horror movies can teach lawyers

Super Lawyers online-exclusive

By Jessica Ogilvie on October 19, 2023


For someone who doesn’t really like horror movies, Cara Fialkoff has made a standout presentation around them. Approached several years ago by New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education to present, Fialkoff was asked if she’d take part in a Halloween-themed CLE.

It was an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an avid lover of Halloween,” she says. “Anyone knows me knows it’s my favorite. So when the opportunity came about, I jumped at it.”

Fialkoff wound up developing a presentation—titled “Halloween Legalities – What Horror Movies Can Teach Lawyers”—that examines horror movies through a legal lens, asking: What if this happened in real life? Who would be at fault? Would there be liability?

“When you’re looking at things like Friday the 13th or all the Jason movies … you’re wondering, is there negligence against the camp director?” Fialkoff says. “Or is there an issue of liability on a facility for letting somebody out?”

Fialkoff comes by her love of Halloween naturally. When she was a kid, her mother threw a big party every October 31st, and they were visited by more trick-or-treaters than any other house on the block thanks to a massive decorative display.

“My mom is a huge Halloween fanatic,” she says. “It was kind of ingrained in me. … It’s fun now to use that love of Halloween in a more professional setting.”

Her interest in all things spooky has been stoked by conversations with her husband, who is also an attorney. Any time they’re watching TV, she says, they wind up asking the same questions: How would this play out in the real world?

“To examine, with a legal lens, things that aren’t law-related is definitely enjoyable,” she says. “You’re like, ‘Wait, where are the legal spotting issues here?’ It truly feels like a little bit of a bar exam test.”

With all that time spent analyzing the potential legal pitfalls in ’80s slasher films, it comes as a bit of a surprise to find out that Fialkoff is in fact not a big fan of the genre.

“I cannot sit through [them],” she says of horror movies. “I get too scared. I think these little clips that we show in CLE are truly all that I can handle. I love Halloween, but I’m not a scary movie person.”

With that said, this year, Fialkoff is keeping her costume to a minimum—largely so she can focus on how to dress up her dog.

“We recently adopted [her] and she probably has more costumes than anyone,” she says. “We got her a lion costume. She also potentially has a unicorn costume, and we also got her a little bat. So we’ll just see what her mood is like,” she adds with a laugh.

As for the Halloween CLE presentation, she plans to keep it going. “It blends my love of Halloween with law,” she says, “which I can’t complain about.”

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