Osgoode Hall Law Journal

Document Type

Book Review


Prolific legal theorist Allan C. Hutchinson offers a provocative critical perspective on the relationship between law, the public interest, and lawyers’ practices. His recent book, Fighting Fair, seeks to ground legal ethics in the principles regulating one of the most universal and characteristic of all human activities—warfare. Readers of Candide, All Quiet on the Western Front, or Catch-22, or viewers of Gallipoli, Apocalypse Now, or Hacksaw Ridge may be excused for thinking that all we have learned about war is that it is senseless, brutal, dehumanizing, and in all ways an unmitigated ethical catastrophe. Hutchinson, however, is perfectly serious about the comparison. The adversarial system of dispute resolution is not going anywhere in the common-law world. So rather than seek reform of the “sporting theory of justice,” Hutchinson recommends that lawyers understand their professional role as analogous with that of the warrior. Importantly, a warrior is not a “hired gun,” that familiar target of critics of the adversary system. Warriors are not indifferent to the justice of their employer’s cause. They fight fairly, accept the possibility of defeat as the price of fighting with honour, are committed to a greater good over mere victory, and never lose the connection with their humanity, even in the heat of battle. Warriors also respect their enemies, rather than adopting a “consistently bellicose or thoroughly hostile stance” toward adversaries.

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