March 09, 2015 Articles

Know Thyself: Affinity Bias in the Legal Profession

By Stella Tsai and Debra Rosen

Humans are hardwired to be biased. It is human nature to seek the company of others who fall within our “comfort zone” and to flee from those who trigger our “danger detectors.” Our positive response to people who are similar to us is known as “affinity” bias.

As lawyers, we pride ourselves on objectivity. We find it hard to accept that our unconscious biases contribute to the attrition rates of minority and women lawyers in the workplace and that bias plays any role in our interactions with diverse attorneys. We are certainly too enlightened for that. But research has shown that everyone has biases; it is just a part of who we are.

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