Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Publication Citation

11 Clinical Law Review 369 (2004-2005)

Abstract

Much of the current literature in multicultural lawyering focuses on learning substantive information about clients who are culturally different from the lawyer, such as how the client's culture perceives eye contact or reacts to science-based world views. This article notes that such a focus sidesteps the human reality that every person reacts to people who are different from him- or herself unconsciously in ways that may be culturally insensitive and discriminatory and that this human reaction occurs despite awareness of the general values, attitudes, and beliefs of the client's culture. It therefore suggests that multicultural lawyering training should begin with the lawyer's self-analysis of his/her culture and its influences on the lawyer. Such cultural self-awareness is considered in social science to be the key to multicultural competence, because awareness of one's own culture allows more accurate understanding of cultural forces that affect the lawyer, the client, and the interaction of the two. Specifically, the article offers a framework for learning cultural self-awareness, starting with the teaching of cognitive and social psychology. This psychology would include an understanding of the unconscious mechanisms by which every person categorizes others and the use every person makes of these categories as s/he encounters culturally different persons. It also provides real-life examples of how unconscious categorization affects behavior and how cultural self-awareness can enable more accurate, client-centered lawyering.