Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Winter 2019, Volume 25, Issue 1

MCLE Article: Elimination of Bias: You Should Try to Change What You Should Be Able to See

By Angelica Sciencio

Angelica Sciencio practices business immigration and family law with Sciencio Law Group, APC in San Diego, CA. She is the chair of the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion of the San Diego County Bar Association, past-chair of the Diverse Women’s Committee of the Lawyers Club of San Diego and is interested in racial and gender inequality issues.

The American Bar Association’s most recent study and report on bias in the workplace, released in September 2018, shines a light on the impactful effect implicit bias may have on a lawyer’s career, opportunities for advancement, attrition and, inevitably a practitioner’s psyche and self-esteem. The report highlights the appalling (yet not surprising) numbers and disproportionate rates that women, and particularly women of color report bias in the profession.

The published executive summary of the study, aptly named "You Can’t Change What You Can See: Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession,"1 provides a short overview of the report results. The study was compiled based on the answers of 2827 respondents and compared reported bias encountered by individuals identified as white male, white female, men of color and women of color. The report indicates that women of color reported encountering biased behavior substantially more often than any other group. In certain instances, women of color reported biased behaviors at a rate of 50% points higher than white males.

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