Implicit Bias in the Legal Workplace: Moving from "Who is Biased?" to "What Can We Do About It?

Thursday, June 1 
(9:00am - 10:40am)

Moderator: Jonathan Smaby 
Panelists: German Gomez, Karen Hester, Janie F. Schulman

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases can be favorable or unfavorable, and are activated without a person’s awareness or control.  As a result, we have unconscious feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, gender and appearance that may not necessarily align with our explicit beliefs.  Inevitably, implicit bias affects our day-to-day interactions with others, as well as our assessments of others’ behavior. 

This panel will explore how implicit bias works and how it affects day-to-day decisions and the exercise of discretion in various aspects of the legal workplace, including:  

  • Associate development and partner promotion in law firms and other legal organizations
  • Interactions with clien
  • Relationships with opposing counsel

Woven throughout the discussion will be application of ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4, as amended in August 2016.  This presentation will include an interactive discussion of scenarios based on typical interactions in the legal workplace.


  1. Bias Tools -- Gomez
  2. Elimination of Bias - Schulman
  3. Implicit Bias - Gomez
  4. Model Rule 8.4
  5. Nexations Written in Black and White YPS

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