Navigating the Pitfalls of Implicit Bias: A Cognitive Science Primer for Civil Litigators
St. Mary's L.J. Legal Malpractice & Ethics, Forthcoming
37 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 3, 2014
Cognitive science has revealed that past experiences and prior assumptions, even those of which we are not conscious, greatly influence how humans perceive the world. Emerging research has demonstrated that attorneys and judges, like everyone else, are the products of their gender, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status. As a consequence, legal decisionmaking is susceptible to the subtle influences of implicit bias. Effective and ethical client advocacy requires an attorney to understand how her own implicit biases will affect her interactions with clients. An attorney should also acknowledge that implicit biases may affect a judge’s interpretation of her client’s story and legal arguments. This Article explains how insights from cognitive science should inform an attorney’s representation of clients in civil litigation.
Keywords: cognitive science, implicit bias, social cognitive theory, legal decisionmaking, client representation, advocacy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation