City firm monitors lawyers’ calls in bid to combat stress

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By Thomas Connelly on

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


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.