Race Matters: White Dispatches From the Professional Front

Author ORCID Identifier

Allan C. Hutchinson: 0009-0003-8974-2886

Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

Webb, Julian S., ed. Leading Works in Legal Ethics. Abingdon, England: Routledge, 2024.


David Wilkins’s ‘bleached-out professionalism’ article is a deserved modern classic. In his characteristically modest but firm critique, he brings together two streams of intellectual thought that had not yet been integrated at his time of writing – the challenge to legal ethics as a body of neutral and professional rules and principles and the developing insights of critical race theory. He demonstrates clearly and practically how the façade of neutral professionalism is a cover for a more skewed and partial body of norms that reflects and embodies the values and practices of the dominant and, therefore, white legal establishment. In my chapter, I want to show how his critique sheds light on both bodies of critical literature – ethical and racial – as well as trace its impact on the growing and derivative work of legal ethicists and practitioners. However, I also try to push Wilkins’s approach further across the political spectrum and suggest how it can be used to advance transformative approaches to legal professional responsibility in an increasingly fractious and divisive social context.

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