October 04, 2018 Practice Points

Five Ways to Address Your Implicit Bias

By Cathy Krebs

Before we address the implicit bias within our systems, we need to address our own unintentional bias. Here are five tips to get you started.

  1. Learn about implicit bias. Learn what it is and how might it affect your work. Everyone has some implicit bias and it can be based on many factors that might include race, age, gender, ability, citizenship, sexual orientation, and more. There are many good resources online to get you started, 
    including this one from the American Bar Association.
  2. Take an implicit assessment test online to explore your own implicit biases, for example this test from Harvard.
  3. Check your assumptions regarding our clients and their families. Ask yourself, what assumptions am I making regarding my client based on race or background? What assumptions am I making regarding my client’s family based on their prior decisions or behavior?
  4. Be guided by standards and laws that constrain inherent bias. For example, the ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases and the Model Act Governing the Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases.
  5. Take advantage of trainings and resources to assist in addressing implicit bias. For example, this bench card on Addressing Bias in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and this Section of Litigation toolkit which includes training materials and a video explaining the science behind implicit bias.

Cathy Krebs is the committee director of the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee.

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