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Distributive justice (outcome fairness) and procedural justice (method fairness)

Research into what people feel is a just outcome suggests that people are concerned not only with the perceived fairness of the outcome in a particular situation, but also with the perceived fairness of the process that determined the outcome. These two concerns are referred to as distributive and procedural justice, respectively. This distinction and terminology comes from the Acad. of Mgt. Rev., Aug. 1996, at 1041, and both apply to law departments.

For example, law firms that compete for work with proposals, questions, and presentations obviously would like to be selected. Even if they are not selected (a manifestly unfair outcome!), however, they care whether the procedural treatment of them was satisfactory. As another example, only one person can be promoted to an opening in a law department, and that promotion can trigger disagreement with the outcome, the manner, or both of the decision.

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