In recent years, it has become common to see claims that the doctrine of legitimate expectations has no sufficiently defined purpose, and that administrative law scholars should do more theoretical work to bring coherence to this area of law. In this paper, I suggest this ‘conceptual critique’ of legitimate expectations is misplaced and that, instead, it reveals a much wider failing of contemporary administrative law scholarship. First, I show how there has not yet been, and is unlikely to be, a satisfactory answer to the conceptual critique. Following on from this premise, I suggest that the assumptions underlying the conceptual critique are faulty and, administrative lawyers need to fundamentally alter and expand how they study legitimate expectations. The aim now, I argue, must be to move towards providing an account of the practice of legitimate expectations in the wider context of public administration. My specific argument in this paper is thus a case for a significant reorientation and an expansion of the study of how law protects legitimate expectations, but the wider suggestion is that the same shift is required in administrative law scholarship generally.