City law firm brings in emotional intelligence training to ward off threat from robots

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EQ to trump IQ in age of AI


The freelance arm of international law firm Pinsent Masons has introduced emotional intelligence training in a bid to mitigate the threat posed by the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal profession.

Working with business psychologists, the firm has begun putting its freelance solicitors — which it contracts out under the Vario brand — through courses designed to boost their ability to build relationships and be more attuned to emotion.

It is hoped that the training will not only boost lawyers’ immunity to robot competition but make it easier to assign them to work that best suits their personality.

The moves comes as a possible new era of machines edged a step closer this week with the news that a US law firm had hired a “robot lawyer” created by IBM called ‘ROSS’.

ROSS is working in Baker & Hostetler’s bankruptcy practice, and is apparently able to “understand language, provide answers to questions, formulate hypotheses and monitor developments in the legal system.”

But presumably he’s not great with people. And it is this famed Achilles heel of the AI community which Vario boss Matthew Kay thinks he can exploit. He explains:

We’re in an almost futuristic age where human lawyers will soon have to start seriously considering how to differentiate themselves from these new robot competitors. Lawyers need to focus on polishing up their human skills, particularly their emotional intelligence.

Kay reckons the freelance lawyering world — which has grown hugely as a junior solicitor career path over the last few years as brands like Vario and Berwin Leighton Paisner spin-off Lawyers On Demand have hit the market — is a perfect battle ground for a humans versus robots fight.

On one hand you have the robots, and all the other cost-saving attractions associated with new technology; on the other stand the human freelance lawyers, who stand or fall on their ability to get on with people and adapt to new jobs. In this finely matched contest, EQ training could be the deciding factor, explains Kay:

Forming close and meaningful relationships with clients has always been hugely important in the legal sector, but with the rise of AI and robots carrying out tasks in law firms, it will become more vital than ever for firms to ensure all their lawyers sharpen their own emotional intelligence.

The EQ training itself — which is being rolled out this month — will focus on two broad areas, “people and relationships” and “drivers and emotions”. Kay explains that “an ideal contract lawyer is flexible, good under pressure and has fantastic people skills”, and reports that he has found that by asking a series of specific questions “we can accurately predict how an individual will fare in different situations and therefore match the lawyers to their perfect assignment”.



I though this article was going to be about law graduates from the far east.


Danger Mouser Chief Agitator & Rabble Rouser

Funniest thing I’ve read in days. All my internets, etc.



So basically humans are now, or will soon be, obsolete in pretty much every facet of life. Lol.



Bull crap!



As I understand it ROSS will make legal research more efficient. You will be able to ask it a legal question in normal language and it’ll search case law to find an answer.

You still need legally trained people to know what questions to ask, how to apply the answers, and to know whether ROSS is giving sensible answers or is talking total bollocks.

So if anything ROSS will replace some of the paralegal and trainee level work, but will make the work of more senior lawyers more efficient. Far from the “humans v robots” slant of the article.


Lord Lyle of Dip Forensic Psychiatry

Does any one in LC or any commentator have any psychiatric qualifications!


Lord Lyle of Dip Forensic Psychiatry

I have come across these “emotional intelligence” tests constructed and administered by people with no psychiatric qualifications .

To do this properly one would need a team of consultant psychiatrists which would cost the company, say £10,000 per I/V minimum. Instead one has morons administering tick box texts of which they know nothing.

Leave the I/V immediately


Lord Lyle of Dip Forensic Psychiatry

Garnish as much info on your interviewer’s medical, psychiatric qualifications. Invariably they will have none. Then report them to the GMC, the Bar or SRA and the police.


Philip Gimmack

Good to hear lawyers using emotional intelligence training – they need it more than most.

An already emotionally-depleted sector, Lawyers, now having an emotion-less robot to work with them is sadly ironic. Some would argue this was the natural progression where it’s been evident for some time, the level of emotional denial is high in law firms. The hours worked, the pressure and autonomy are well known.
A Bankruptcy practice? Bankrupt indeed.
The more we deny our human qualities and that emotions are our single most important internal messaging system – the more trouble we’ll get ourselves into. Depression and low engagement are rife in law firms.

And respectfully no: Lord Lyle: You don’t need Psychiatrists at all. The advances in Behavioural Psychology are often not fully acknowledged by the medical field. There is huge empirical evidence for the benefits and success of EQ testing. I and many others have used them myself to great effect for many years. Also as an experienced change management expert I would suggest these additional experiences are far more relevant for creating culture change.

I would be interested to know exactly what the training entails here though…as there’s training and there’s training. And until the culture shifts and senior leaders ‘get it’ they’ may be simply fiddling around the edges. Philip Gimmack, CEO,


Cameron K

Oh dear. I object to LL throwing around insults ‘Instead one has morons administering’. This would be fascicle if it wasn’t abusive. It’s totally out of order but also sadly ironic. You have clearly no knowledge of EQ, it’s history, training, psychometric testing, its statistical base or of the individual psychologists using these to great effect. To comment so harshly and totally dismiss something of which you have no knowledge of but helps thousands of people is about as unscientific as you can get. It’s such a shame when one branch of (supposed) science seeks to laud itself over another for threat of it’s own significance. This smacks of ignorance dressed up as elitism.


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