March 26, 2021 6 minutes to read ∙ 1400 words

Eliminating Implicit Bias among Lawyers, Part 1

By Rebecca Howlett and Cynthia Sharp

What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.

—Albert Einstein

Imagine this scenario: Dan, a prominent black attorney in a major city, arrives at his adversary’s office for a scheduled deposition. As he enters the waiting area, the receptionist offers the greeting: “Hello. Please have a seat. The lawyers will arrive soon.”

Most likely, the receptionist’s incorrect assumption about Dan’s professional status was innocent and simply a manifestation of her implicit or unconscious bias. She is not alone. We all harbor implicit bias at some level and make judgments about others, as well as ourselves, consistent with these predispositions. People are routinely stereotyped on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, weight, age, neurodiversity, disability, and even physical attractiveness. The list of cultural categories is seemingly endless.

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