February 23, 2023

How Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ Can Shed Light on Legal Bias

ABA Journal

Business litigation partner John Ursu coauthored an article in the ABA Journal, explaining a common error displayed in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” that can be seen in the legal profession. Ursu states that recognizing and compensating for cognitive blind spots that affect decision-making is key to lawyerly growth and change.

Ursu notes that individuals are extremely good at spotting others’ biases and extremely poor at spotting their own, which can have substantial effects on the legal system and may affect case outcomes. For example, biases can lead to perceptual errors by attorneys, judges and jurors, including overestimating one’s objectivity.

Next, Ursu shares techniques to correct overconfidence in one’s ability to make objective judgments, such as 1) starting with oneself, 2) improving the conditions under which decisions are made and 3) using the perspective of others. In conclusion, he writes, “The secret to being a great attorney is not in how charming, smart or eloquent we are; it is in our ability to access what others see that we do not.”

The full article is available for ABA members.

Full Article

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