November 29, 2016 Articles

Implicit Bias and Clients: An Overview

Research suggests that our implicit biases can influence how effectively we represent our clients

by Bide Akande

Increasingly, the legal profession has examined how implicit racial biases affect our justice system. This newfound interest is well deserved. Though our justice system relies on objectivity, we practitioners are not beyond the influence of our own humanity. Research from the fields of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology reveals that "our seemingly neutral, logical, and reasoned judgments are actually influenced by unconscious frameworks of thinking about the world." See Nicole E. Negowetti, "Navigating the Pitfalls of Implicit Bias: A Cognitive Science Primer for Civil Litigators," 4 St. Mary's J. Legal Malpractice & Ethics 278, 280 (2014) (citing Ronald Chen & Jon Hanson, "Categorically Biased: The Influence of Knowledge Structure on Law and Legal Theory," [login required] 77 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1103, 1217 (2004)).

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