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City firm monitors lawyers’ calls in bid to combat stress

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Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co implements app-based tech that checks for stress in lawyer telephone voices

Lead

The brains behind a stress-monitoring app have teamed up with law firm HR bods to detect when lawyers are on the brink of breakdown.

London-based Soma Analytics is pushing its app, called Keela, into the legal profession, with a deal announced with a City law firm. The app — which also issues lawyers with handy tips on how to get a good night’s sleep — has been given the green light by Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.

It is understood that the app calculates how knackered a lawyer is by measuring cognitive functions during phone conversations. In theory, this state-of-the-art technology will allow HR staff to implement stress combating strategies before problems escalate.

CEO of Soma Analytics, Johan Huber, was keen to reassure risk averse lawyers that the content of their calls were not monitored, telling Legal Cheek:

The app is not passively recording your voice neither is it recording any content of conversations. It uses modern artificial intelligence algorithms to determine emotions from the ‘energy levels’ in your voice frequency bands.

Huber also revealed that other City based firms are mulling over introducing the stress-busting app, continuing:

We are indeed in discussions with a couple of other law firms in the City. Our largest client so far is a global auditing company where we are active in three countries.

Wragges conducted a focus group trial over 21 days, with the results finding that lawyers’ stress levels dropped between 10% and 15% when they used the stress-monitoring app, bringing them in line with the UK national average.

Chris Oglethorpe, HR Director for Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co told Legal Cheek:

The app can be downloaded onto any iPhone or android device. The user is then able to monitor things like sleep patterns and resilience and receive feedback and tips on how to make any necessary improvements which may be of benefit to them. It doesn’t monitor phone calls!

Oglethorpe stressed that while the app was entirely optional they were encouraging staff to embrace the new tech, explaining:

Although the use of the app is by no means compulsory, we are certainly encouraging people to use it for wellbeing purposes and particularly after the positive feedback we received from a group of our lawyers who kindly volunteered to test it.

That pilot follows disturbing research showing that almost three-quarters of junior lawyers fear “professional burnout”.

The recent survey of 1,000 junior lawyers suggested that a combination of deadline pressure, continuous interruptions and lack of autonomy contributed to rising blood pressure in the legal profession.

9 Comments

Kuzka's Mother

The latest in HR’s battle to justify their own existence

(14)(0)

Not Amused

Being constantly watched and judged always calms me down.

(22)(0)

Anonymous

1984

(6)(0)

Why are there no lawyers in Skyrim?

This is the most absurd idea. Knowing that someone is listening in on your phone calls to monitor for ‘stress’ is going to greatly increase stress.

Worse still lawyers will get stressed trying hard not to appear/sound stressed, which is already an issue for us Brits.

Sounds like the same kind of misguided HR stunt in the MC firms re. helping partners with mental health, where partners were ‘invited’ to tell the management they were depressed, psychotic and very, very unhappy. Guess what, no one came forward.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Seems like half of these commenters didn’t read the article. Particularly the bit where it said the tech doesn’t listen to or record speech patterns.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

“Oh, by the way, anyone still experiencing stress by the end of the day… will be fired!”
– The IT Crowd, Season 1, Episode 2

(9)(0)

AC

Face it, the legal profession is pretty bleak. I think most people who come out of law school probably only proceed due to the amount of money and study with the idea that it will pay off and be a rewarding career. They feel like they can’t let themselves down (or their family/freinds) and keep persevering to the point where they become trapped. 3 years of uni, 2 years LPC and 2 years training contract.. people juts can’t admit to themselves they don’t want to do it any more. In my case (as with many others) I ended up in basic RTA work and put under pressure to recover hundreds of thousands in credit repair/hie cases by my management… It’s hell.. The people who work in law are generally quite cold and nasty too, which doesn’t help!

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Hello, am I through to Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co ?

‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Thank you for calling the stress line, you have 17 options.

(1)(0)

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