Straightjacketing Professionalism: A Comment on Russell

Professor Russell’s essay sounds a much needed cautionary note about the public’s characterization of Christopher Darden and Johnnie Cochran both during and after the spectacle of O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial. Russell cogently argues that Darden and Cochran’s choices, as well as those of other black lawyers confronting similar problems, must be evaluated against the backdrop of racism that devalues and constrains the lives of African Americans in general and African-American lawyers in particular. Black lawyers, Russell insists, not only face “glass ceilings” inhibiting their advancement, but must also live inside “glass bubble[s] … that severely circumscribe[ ] the flexibility and creativity so critical to the Black lawyer’s – or indeed any lawyer’s – professional identity.”