Shadowing the Bar: Attorneys’ Own Implicit Bias

32 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2018 Last revised: 16 Jan 2019

Date Written: 2018


This article analyzes the implications of implicit bias in the legal profession, focusing on how the implicit biases of attorneys impact litigants. Part one summarizes research in the cognitive science field defining bias and explains some of the Harvard Implicit Association Tests (IAT). Part two describes some studies conducted on juror and judicial bias in the courtroom, as well as those dealing with the bias of attorneys in criminal cases. Using this background, part three provides an analysis of the impact of an attorney’s implicit bias on her strategic decision making and conduct of civil litigation, its results for clients, and its impact on the justice system. Part three also provides an argument for the American Bar Association’s (ABA) proposed rule for a negligence standard regarding ethical regulations intended to ensure that lawyers work harder to overcome biases to better serve justice. The conclusion in part four proposes a framework for interrupting biased behaviors.

Keywords: implicit bias, legal profession, attorney, litigation, cognitive science, Harvard Implicit Association Tests, IAT, juror, judicial bias, criminal, civil litigation, American Bar Association, ABA, model rules

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Christine Chambers, Shadowing the Bar: Attorneys’ Own Implicit Bias (2018). Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, Vol. 28, 2018; Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018/10. Available at SSRN:

Christine Chambers Goodman (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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