In an era too often marked by acts of incivility, Robert’s Fund aims to elevate the way we treat one another in the legal profession and to inspire acts of courtesy, kindness, and compassion among members of the profession. Increased civility demonstrably improves outcomes for legal professionals and the people that they serve. And because legal professionals profoundly influence society, even outside their formal work, their behavior often sets the tenor of corporate, political, and social interactions. View information about who we are and what we do

Civility Skills: The Art of Addressing Bias

Readings and Resources

    I. Characteristics of civility

  1. Justice Steven González, True Civility Requires More Than Being Polite, Washington State Bar News (Sept. 2012)
  2. Senior Judge Gerald W. Hardcastle, Civility in the Courtroom: A Judge’s Perspective, Nev. Lawyer Mag. (Dec. 2009)
  3. Humphrey, Thomas E., “Civil” Practice in Maine, Maine Bar Journal
  4. Julie Braman Kane, Civility: It’s Not a Sign of Weakness (Subtitle 1: Make Your Mama Proud; Subtitle II: Would You Do it in Front of Your Grandmother?), 1 Ann.2007 AAJ-CLE 809 (July 2007)
  5. Chenise S. Kanemoto, Bushido in the Courtroom:  A case for virtue oriented lawyering, 57 S. C. L. Rev. 357 (Winter 2005).
  6. Paula Lustbader, Igniting a Culture of Civility, Washington State Bar News (January 2011)
  7. Harry J. McCarthy, The Value of Civility in the Legal Profession, Washington State Bar News 2011)
  8. Sandra Day O’Connor, Professionalism, 78 Or. L. Rev. 385 (Summer 1999)
  9. Abstracts of Relevant Washington Rules of Professional Conduct
  10. Washington State Bar Association Creed of Professionalism-adopted by the WSBA Board of Governors July 2001

    II. Benefits of civility/costs of incivility

  12. Kevin Burke & Steve Leben, Procedural Fairness: A Key Ingredient in Public Satisfaction (A White Paper of the American Judges Association), 44 CT. REV. 4, 12-13, 17-18 (2008), available at http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1245&context=ajacourtreview
  13. Cynthia L. Alexander & G. Andrew H. Benjamin, Civility Is Good for Your Health, Washington State Bar News (Apr. 2011)
  14. Dan Crystal, The Unbar: Attorneys Come Together to Take On Alcoholism, (Sept. 2012)
  15. Mark G. Honeywell, Civility is Good Business, Robert’s Fund (June 2011)
  16. Steve Leben, An Expectation of Empathy, Washburn L.J., Fall 2011, at 49
  17. Paula Lustbader, Lecture Notes on Civility in the Legal Profession, Robert’s Fund (2012)
  18. Christine L. Porath, Alexandra Gerbasi and Sebastian L. Schorch, The Effects of Civility on Advice, Leadership, and Performance, Journal of Applied Psychology.  Advance online publication (March 23, 2015).
  19. Christine Pearson and Christine Porath, The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It (2009)

    III. Pillars of civility


  21. Amanda Enayati, Seeking Serenity: When Lawyers Go Zen (May 2011)
  22. Leslie A. Gordon, Law Prof Teaches Meditation Techniques for Lawyers, A.B.A. J. (Feb. 1, 2014)
  23. Janet Ellen Raasch, Putting Relaxation Back Into Firm Retreats: Loosening Up the Lawyer Mind, 32 Law Prac. (Jan.-Feb. 2006)
  24. Stella Rabaut, Lawyers: Leading with Integrity, Washington State Bar Association, (October 2013).
  25. Robert Zeglovitch, The Mindful Lawyer, GPSolo Magazine (Oct.-Nov. 2006)
  26. Additional resources:
    Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books 1st ed. 1995)
    Rick Hanson, Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom (New Harbinger Publications 1st ed. 2009)


  27. Lera Boroditsky, Lost in Translation, The Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2010
  28. Steven Keeva, Lose the Box (Sept. 12, 2004, 11:46 AM CST), A.B.A. J
  29. Daniel H. Pink, Revenge of the Right Brain: Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now Comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion, Wired, Issue 13.02 (2005)
  30. Janet Ellen Raasch, Inspired by the Wonder of Poetry, A.B.A.
  31. Jeff Tolman, Looking at the World Through Other People’s Eyes, Wash. Bar News, (Mar. 2011)
  32. Mary I. Yu, Civility in Our Conversations about Race and Culture, Wash Bar News (May 2011)
  33. Community

  34. A.B.A., Staying connected to friends and family, not necessarily your PDA, helps keep stress at bay (Sept. 2011)
  35. Celeste F. Bremer, Fostering Civility Within the Legal Profession: Expanding the Inns of Court Model of Communal Dining
  36. David Brooks, Nice Guys Finish First, N.Y. Times (May 16, 2011)
  37. Isaiah M. Zimmerman, Isolation in the Judicial Career, 36 CT. REV. 4 (2000)

    IV. Implicit bias

  39. Adam Benforado, Frames of Injustice: The bias we overlook, 85 Ind. L. J. 1333 (Fall 2010).
  40. Roger O. Crockett, Listening is Critical in Today’s Multicultural Landscape, Harvard Business Review Blog Network (Mar. 14, 2011, 2:15 PM), http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/03/shhh-listening-is-critical-in/
  41. Jeremy Dowsett, My Bike and White Privilege Revisited, A Little More Sauce Blog accessed July 31, 2015 at http://alittlemoresauce.com/2014/09/11/my-bike-and-white-privilege-revisited/
  42. Jeremy Dowsett, What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege, A Little More Sauce Blog accessed July 31, 2015 at http://alittlemoresauce.com/2014/08/20/what-my-bike-has-taught-me-about-white-privilege/
  43. Jerry Kang, Getting Up to Speed on Implicit Bias, http://jerrykang.net/2011/03/13/getting-up-to-speed-on-implicit-bias/
  44. Jerry Kang et al., Implicit Bias in the Courtroom, 59 UCLA L. REV. 1124 (2012) http://www.uclalawreview.org/?p=3576
  45. Charles R. Lawrence III, Local Kine Implicit Bias:  Unconscious racism revisited (yet again), 37 U. Haw. L. Rev. 457 (Spring, 2015).
  46. Nicole E. Negowetti, Navigating the Pitfalls of Implicit Bias:  A cognitive science primer for civil litigators, 4 St. Mary’s J. Legal Mal. & Ethics 278 (2014).
  47. Leticia Nieto, Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment: A Developmental Strategy to Liberate Everyone (2010).
  48. Open Society Institute, the State Justice Institute, and the National Center for State Courts,  Addressing Implicit Bias in the Courts, Accessed July 28, 2015 at http://www.ncsc.org/~/media/Files/PDF/Topics/Gender%20and%20Racial%20Fairness/IB_Summary_033012.ashx
  49. Project Implicit,  Accessed July 28, 2015 at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
  50. Cases:
      Special thanks to Jessica Levin, Staff Attorney, Korematsu Center for Law & Equality for compiling and summarizing cases.

      Washington Cases

    1. State v. Saintcalle, 178 Wn.2d 34, 309 P.3d 326 (2013), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 831 (2013) (discussing implicit bias and how it renders the Batson test ineffective, but leaving the question of how to reform peremptory challenges for another day).
    2. State v. Monday, 171 Wn.2d 667, 275 P.3d 551 (2011) (addressing racial bias in the context of prosecutorial misconduct).
    3. Katare v. Katare, No. 63438-1-I, 2011 WL 61847, at *11-12 (Wash. Ct. App. Jan. 10, 2011) (unpublished), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 175 Wn.2d 23, 283 P.3d 546 (2012), cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 889 (2013) (marriage dissolution case involving one party’s use of profiling based on national origin or race as it related to restrictions on parenting plan).
    4. Salas v. Hi-Tech Erectors, 168 Wn.2d 664, 671-73, 230 P.3d 583 (2010) (holding that while relevance of plaintiff’s immigration status was relevant to plaintiff’s claim for future lost earnings, its relevance was substantially outweighed by the risk of prejudice, and the trial court therefore abused its discretion in admitting the evidence of immigration status).
    5. Turner v. Stime, 153 Wn. App. 581, 222 P.3d 1243 (2009) (upholding trial court’s grant of a new trial based on jury misconduct, when jurors referred to plaintiff’s attorney, who is Japanese American, as “Mr. Miyagi,” “Mr. Miyashi,” and “Mr. Kamikaze”).
    6. Schotis v. N. Coast Stevedoring Co., 1 P.2d 221 (Wash. 1931) (counsel’s statements that “the Japanese people don’t like us” in civil case involving a defendant Japanese corporation required reversal and remand for new trial).

    Other Cases

    1. Cudjo v. Ayers, 698 F.3d 752, 770 (9th Cir. 2012) (vacating conviction because prosecutor’s inflammatory racial comment made in closing argument prejudiced defendant). 
    2. Bird v. Glacier Elec. Coop., Inc., 255 F.3d 1136, 1148-50 (9th Cir. 2001) (racially inflammatory comments during opening and closing are “beyond the limits of legitimate advocacy” and should not be used to inflame the jury). Nb: the court’s concern was that the comments encouraged the jury to act out of bias in favor of a litigant.
    3. Bains v. Cambra, 204 F.3d 964, 975-75 (9th Cir. 2000) (inflammatory prosecutorial arguments about violent nature of people of Sikh faith might have motivated jury to focus on upon prejudicial inferences).
    4. Fontanello v. United States, 19 F.2d 921, 921-22 (9th Cir. 1927) (district attorney’s statement regarding Italian immigrants as criminals was unwarranted because it created racial prejudice). 
    5. Texas Emp’rs’ Ins. Ass’n v. Guerrero, 800 S.W.2d 859, 866 (Tex. App. 1990) (plaintiff’s counsel’s remarks improperly solicited ethnic solidarity between plaintiff and jury). 
  51. V. Strategies to address bias

  52. National Center for State Courts, Strategies to Reduce the Influence of Implicit Bias, http://www.ncsc.org/~/media/Files/PDF/Topics/Gender%20and%20Racial%20Fairness/IB_Strategies_033012.ashx
  53. Sue Bryant and Jean Koh Peters, Five Habits for Cross-Cultural Lawyering, in RACE, CULTURE, PSYCHOLOGY & LAW 47-62 (Kimberly Holt Barrett and William H. George eds., 2005), http://books.google.com/books?id=eFgt0h5Q9DgC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=bryant+and+peters+5+habits&source=bl&ots=XwAGogXmSx&sig=UeP12HiPXkFqZOWLoZygSk01KI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MjjbUef3IMGsiALkpIH4DQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=bryant%20and%20peters%205%20habits&f=false
  54. Patricia G. Devine, Patrick S. Forscher, Anthony J. Austin, and William T. L. Cox, Long-term reduction in implicit race bias: A prejudice habit breaking intervention, J Exp Soc Psychol. 2012 November ; 48(6): 1267–1278. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.06.003, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603687/pdf/nihms396358.pdf
  55. Adam Lueke and Bryan Gibson, Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias: The Role of Reduced Automaticity of Responding, Social Psychological and Personality Science 2015, Vol. 6(3) 284-291.
  56. Paula Lustbader, Listening from the Bench Fosters Civility and Promotes Justice, forthcoming in the Seattle Journal of Social Justice 2015.
  57. John A. Powell, Understanding Our New Racial Reality Starts with the Unconscious, Greater Good, the Science of a Meaningful Life, May 19, 2013 http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/meditation_causes_compassionate_action
  58. Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Meditation Makes Us Act with Compassion, Greater Good, the Science of a Meaningful Life, April 11, 2013 http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/meditation_causes_compassionate_action
  59. Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Three Insights about Compassion, Meditation, and the Brain, Greater Good, the Science of a Meaningful Life, May 15, 2012 http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_insights_from_the_frontiers_of_the_mind
  60. Mary I. Yu, Civility in Our Conversations about Race and Culture, Wash Bar News (May 2011), available at http://www.wsba.org/News-and-Events/Publications-Newsletters Brochures/~/media/Files/News_Events/Publications/Bar%20News/MAY%2011/15-RaisingTheBar.ashx