27 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 137 (1999-2000)
Br'er Rabbit Professionalism: A Homily on Moral Heros and Lawyerly Mores

handle is hein.journals/flsulr27 and id is 153 raw text is: BR'ER RABBIT PROFESSIONALISM:
A HOMILY ON MORAL HEROES
AND LAWYERLY MORES
ROB ATKINSON*
I.  INVOCATION  AND  LECTION  ................................................................................  137
A.  The GospelAccording  to Br'er Rabbit .......................................................  137
B.  Br'erRabbit and  the  Tar Baby  ..................................................................  138
C. Br'erRabbit and the Professionalism Crusade .........................................  139
II. HOMILY: THE TROUBLED TRINITY OF PROFESSIONALISM TENETS ....................  139
A.  The Trouble with Categorical Candor .......................................................  139
B. The Trouble with Pusillanimous Civility .................... .........  146
C. The Trouble with Shallow La wyerly Learning .........................................  149
III.  CoMMIsSION  AND  BENEDICTION  .......................................................................  152
I. INVOCATION AND LECTION
The text of my professionalism homily comes from the Book of
Br'er Rabbit.' As'some of you may know, Br'er Rabbit is the principal
character in a vast body of African folktales. They were collected in
canonical form late in the nineteenth century by Joel Chandler Har-
ris in the hill country of central Georgia. My daddy grew up there,
and my brother and sister and I were raised on Br'er Rabbit stories.
Our particular favorite was Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, my text
for today.
A. The Gospel According to Br'er Rabbit
To appreciate the story, which I'll tell you in a moment, you have
to know a little bit about Br'er Rabbit. First of all, Br'er Rabbit is not
to be confused with the Easter Bunny. Br'er Rabbit is of much older
vintage and much stronger proof. Second, the original Br'er Rabbit
stories are not to be confused with the highly adulterated Walt Dis-
ney version. Contrary to what Disney's truly egregious Song of the
South2 may imply, Br'er Rabbit is no Mickey Mouse.3
* Professor of Law, Florida State University. B.A., Washington and Lee University,
1979; J.D., Yale University, 1982. I appreciate the opportunity afforded me by Dean Don-
ald J. Weidner and J. Marion Moorman, respectively, to present an earlier version of this
paper as part of the College of Law's annual Supreme Court Day program on April 3, 1997,
and as part of the Florida Public Defender Continuing Legal Education Program on May
16, 1997. Perhaps this is also the place to re-thank my former colleague, Jeff Stempel, for
including me in his symposium on legal professionalism, of which, I should emphasize, he
was the sole inspiration and organizer.
1. JULIUS LESTER, THE TALES OF UNCLE REMUS: THE ADVENTURES OF BR'ER RABBIT
(1987).
2. SONG OF THE SOUTH (DISNEY 1946).
3. Whether Uncle Remus, the slave narrator Harris invented for the stories, is an
Uncle Tom is more of an open question. See LESTER, supra note 1, at xiv ('Uncle Remus
became a stereotype, and therefore negative, not because of inaccuracies in Harris's char-

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