Removing Bias from Attorney Evaluations
October 16, 2009 - Live and Via Webcast
Co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, ABA Section on Individual Rights & Responsibilities, ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, ABA Presidential Diversity Commission, ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and ABA Center for Racial & Ethnic Diversity
Date: Friday, October 16, 2009
Location: (1) Webcast and (2) In person at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel; 801 N. Glebe Road; Arlington, Virginia; Room - F. Scott Fitzgerald DE
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Especially in today’s economic environment, attorney evaluations are critical as firms cut salaries based on performance; firms also may use "performance" as a basis for termination, and evaluations that may have been infected with bias therefore will have dire consequences. The performance review is the primary tool for determining work opportunities, compensation, and advancement, and if *it* is flawed, then decision-making process is flawed. Improving the evaluation process will ensure that all associates -- including those who are women, minorities, persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities, or persons with disabilities -- will be afforded the opportunity to work on complex matters for important clients and a variety of partners; enhance the development of skills; and improve referrals and advancement.
This program will discuss the keys to reducing the impact of bias on partnership decisions:
- Raising awareness about bias so that it can be recognized
- Designing a bias-free evaluation process
In order to raise awareness about bias, one must understand the types of bias that exist. Bias today is more subtle and is not as overt as in the past. This program will explore the numerous types of unexamined stereotypes that exist and how they may affect an attorney’s performance evaluation.
We also will discuss the key elements of refining the evaluation process:
- Job-related performance objectives or competencies
- The rating scale
- Training of the evaluating lawyers on best practices for conducting performance evaluations
- Composition of the evaluation committees to ensure diversity of members
Lastly, the program will address other types of evaluations: attorney self-evaluations and upward reviews.