Unconscious bias training—make or break for law firms?

Unconscious bias training—make or break for law firms?

Law firm diversity, inclusion in the workplace and reducing unconscious bias have fast become some of the key priorities for the legal industry. A recruiter’s unconscious bias, whether it relates to gender, race, or another diversity factor, can mean the difference between one candidate securing a legal position over another. As the industry strives to be more inclusive, could unconscious bias training be the key? 

Embarking on a legal career is by no means an easy feat. There’s the excessive reading, the university’s Law Society networking events, and let’s not forget the dreaded vacation scheme and training contract applications—and that’s all before you even graduate! The barriers that appear after graduation can also be daunting for an aspiring legal professional, as the legal industry has more applicants than it does positions. However, somebody aspiring to make it in the legal profession will often find that further exams and networking events are not the only hurdles to overcome. In some cases, unconscious bias can play a role in the recruitment of lawyers. That’s not to say that it’s just young legal professionals who will be impacted - unconscious bias can be present whether it’s in the recruitment process for a trainee, paralegal, or even for promotions and progression.

Unconscious bias and risks to the law firm

Unconscious bias is the automatic judgements or assessments we make about a group of people, often against factors such as age, race, gender, or even disability. Examples of unconscious bias include affinity bias (a tendency to warm up to people who are similar to ourselves), and the halo effect (focusing on somebody’s positives in one area and letting these influence the perception of them in other areas). These automatic judgements can therefore have a direct impact on how we perceive people, and when it comes to recruiters, unconscious bias can mean the difference between one candidate securing a position over another. 

Unconscious bias has become a hot topic because it’s quickly becoming apparent that law firms are falling behind when it comes to diversity in their wor

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