Linguistic Bias in the Justice System

2024 Partners for Justice Conference

Linguistic Bias in the Justice System

Room 302: 9:45 AM to 11:00 AM

The way we talk -- our accent, grammar, vocabulary -- strongly influences people's perception of us. Studies from around the world have shown that speakers of "non-standard" varieties of their language are frequently misunderstood or given less credence in legal settings. Studies also show that listeners' self-awareness of their own linguistic bias, both implicit and explicit, is often extremely low. The panel will discuss linguistic bias in relation to the legal system and the juvenile justice system. Focusing on language as central to culture and personhood, the panel will offer resources and strategies for how public interest lawyers can educate the legal community about linguistic bias, combat implicit and explicit linguistic bias, and advocate for clients from linguistically diverse backgrounds.


  1. Dr. Anne Boyle, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
  2. Dr. Christine Mallinson, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  3. Dr. Troy Grant, Beyond Rhetoric Nonprofit Organization

Moderator: Neha Lall, University of Baltimore School of Law Clinical Program