Navigating the Pitfalls of Implicit Bias: A Cognitive Science Primer for Civil Litigators

St. Mary's L.J. Legal Malpractice & Ethics, Forthcoming

Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-3

37 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2014  

Nicole Negowetti

Valparaiso University Law School

Date Written: March 3, 2014

Abstract

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

Negowetti, Nicole, Navigating the Pitfalls of Implicit Bias: A Cognitive Science Primer for Civil Litigators (March 3, 2014). St. Mary's L.J. Legal Malpractice & Ethics, Forthcoming; Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2403938

Nicole Negowetti (Contact Author)

Valparaiso University Law School ( email )

Valparaiso, IN

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