Legal Profession


You Can't Change What You Can't See: Interrupting Racial and Gender Bias in the Legal Profession

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



implicit bias in the legal profession


The first part of this research report details four main patterns of gender bias, which validate theories that women lawyers long have believed and feelings they long have held. Prove-It-Again describes the need for women and people of color to work harder to prove themselves. Tightrope illustrates the narrower range of behavior expected of and deemed appropriate for women and people of color, with both groups more likely than white men being treated with disrespect. Maternal Wall describes the well-documented bias against mothers, and finally, Tug of War represents the conflict between members of disadvantaged groups that may result from bias in the environment.

The second part of the research report offers two cutting-edge toolkits, one for law firms and one for in-house departments, containing information for how to interrupt bias in hiring, assignments, performance evaluations, compensation, and sponsorship. Based upon the evidence derived from our research, these bias interrupters are small, simple, and incremental steps that tweak basic business systems and yet produce measurable change. They change the systems, not people.