The Founding Principle
Obelisk Support is founded on and continues to honour the principle of human first. We create opportunities for lawyers to flourish by connecting those who need legal services with talented professionals who want to work outside the traditional routine. We set ourselves apart through our commitment to putting people first and focusing on what our clients and consultants really need to succeed – which is why 90% of our clients are repeat purchasers.
CEO, Obelisk Support
The Obelisk Story So Far
The idea for Obelisk Support was born in India, March 2010. Our CEO Dana Denis-Smith travelled there from London to explore her next entrepreneurial idea. At that time, many businesses were developing offshore outsourcing centres. Instead Dana’s thinking took a different line. Why not utilise the talent left behind by traditional working models in the UK?
On returning to London she set up Obelisk Support, starting with a team of just four ex-City lawyers. Since then the business has grown from strength to strength, becoming a trusted and respected provider of legal services and one of the largest communities of freelance lawyers in the world. Why the name? Dana took inspiration from London’s Obelisk – Cleopatra’s Needle.
“It is a symbol of feminine power and its role in history. There was no better name to suggest solidity, vast, long-lasting experience and a significant change in the work culture”.
Meet the Team
“I founded Obelisk Support in 2010 to keep ex-City lawyers working flexibly, around their family or other commitments. As CEO, I am committed to making Obelisk Support a great place to work for my team and our consultants, and to delivering innovative legal services that delight our clients time and time again.” Formerly an international journalist and Linklaters lawyer, Dana is CEO of Obelisk and founder of the First 100 Years project. As well as being named Lexis Legal Personality of the Year 2018, she has also been recognised by many other industry bodies, including Legal500 and Legal Week. She was the winner of Strategic Leadership Award at the MPF 2014 awards and was a finalist in the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards 2012.
“Our ambition is to scale Obelisk and support our clients and consultants as we look to the future of work, flexible working.”. Mark was formerly CEO of financial services resourcing and consultancy firm Huntswood and before that he was senior partner at Catalyst Corporate Finance. He acts as a mentor and coach to the Obelisk Support management board.
“I never forget whether I’m interacting with clients, consultants or colleagues, we are humans first” Debbie joined Obelisk Support in 2016 having held various marketing management roles in the largest publicly traded tobacco company in the world, before moving to a strategic marketing agency in London to manage and grow their client base. Her focus is to grow and nurture client relationships and ensure a strong sales pipeline. Debbie is also a Board Member at Obelisk and works closely with other Members to ensure that the business continues on its growth trajectory through rigorous and regular assessment of our strategies and operational processes and efficiencies.
“I head up finance, operations and people at Obelisk. This gives me the opportunity to review and develop every aspect of the business”. Will is an experienced CFO/COO with track record of developing high growth privately owned or VC backed SMEs in multiple sectors. He works with the other Board members at Obelisk Support to develop strategies for optimising market growth and keeping one step ahead of the competition in terms of service delivery and customer satisfaction.
“At the end of the day, we’re all human trying to find that balance between our work and personal lives. Today’s technologies help us connect with our colleagues without losing the human touch.” Naz joined Obelisk in the summer of 2015 as an Office and Executive Assistant to the CEO focusing on business operations. After a year of understanding the business she joined the Technology Team to be the first point of call for IT support to our customers and the team. Her role involves being responsible for assessing technical solutions to integrate with the company’s infrastructure and working with product and development teams in contributing to tech projects built in-house.
“My work involves helping the team turn our ambitions into reality”. Richard works across Obelisk Support to align business goals, product requirements and technical constraints. To do this he draws on extensive coding, product and team leadership experience from multi-national to start up
“My work starts and ends with people, from identifying the most important people-problems to solving them and shaping products that people love and trust.” With fifteen years’ experience as a developer and founder, Lawrance and his team deliver the technical strategy for Obelisk Support.
“I like to challenge the status quo and from every angle, the Obelisk model challenges the legal industry.” Janet has worked in the broad sphere of legal IT virtually all her working life. After working in administration at A&O, Janet set up a specialist consultancy practice looking at technology services (in their widest sense) for legal firms. She joined BLP about 19 years ago – initially as a consultant but later as their IT Director with a wide range of responsibilities. She was responsible for technology in its broadest sense, including e-commerce activities, knowledge management services and the building and infrastructure.
“Behind every person is a story waiting to be told.” Laure joined Obelisk Support in 2017 and is a former Magic Circle lawyer, communications professional, published author and outdoor blogger. Before Obelisk, Laure developed a corporate and tax law expertise at Clifford Chance and Organic, Inc., wrote for North American publications and was global internal communications manager at Kurt Salmon. She also founded an award-winning blog and published two books. She brings many years’ experience working in B2B and B2C communications and marketing, as well as deep knowledge of the legal industry, to the team at Obelisk.
“The legal sector can be very conservative, but it is changing rapidly and to see the choices expand, especially for women, is part of what makes the job so fascinating.” Jane joined Obelisk Support in October 2013, managing the recruitment and onboarding of new consultants into the Obelisk Support talent pool. With a background in recruitment and development from Linklaters, her role is to attract and select lawyers, often at the start of their journey into interim legal work, that are a good match with our clients’ businesses.
“I joined Obelisk to make a difference to the world of work – I hate the idea that so much talent is going to waste because too many jobs are still designed around old-fashioned ideas of what work should involve.” Before joining Obelisk Support in 2019, Laura led marketing teams in a range of legal, technology and education businesses, most recently at LexisNexis and Pearson. Her focus is on making sure as many in-house teams, businesses, law firms and consultants as possible enjoy working together through Obelisk Support.
“Only by learning from our history can we make a brighter future for the profession.” Caroline is the Project Manager of the First 100 Years project, the charity initiative set up by Obelisk CEO Dana Denis-Smith, which Obelisk Support has supported since its inception in 2015. The project is now the national campaign celebrating the centenary of women in law in 2019, with a digital archive of written and video biographies of pioneering women in the law, podcasts, a touring exhibition, events, guided walks and more. The project is closely aligned with Obelisk’s values as it seeks to challenge the status quo and help make the profession work for all.
“The legal profession has come a long way in terms of equality and diversity over the last hundred years. Let’s celebrate that and use it to drive the change we still need to see.” Ashley graduated with a law degree from University College London in 2018 before working in a Westminster public affairs agency. Following this, he joined First 100 Years in 2019 as Project Coordinator, where he combines his interest in law and longstanding commitment to equality.
A Business with a Purpose
Ever since our creation in 2010, we have strived to make the legal industry a better place to work. Whether that’s through our commitment to diversity, our charitable efforts or our sustainability initiatives.
We are proud that our achievements so far have been recognised by some of the business world’s most prestigious awards.
- Shortlisted for The Lawyer Award for Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion 2019
- CEO Dana Denis-Smith awarded Legal500 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Legal Services 2019
- CEO Dana Denis-Smith named as Lexis Legal Personality of the Year 2018
- One of The Times Top 50 employers for women in 2015 & 2016
- CEO Dana Denis-Smith named as a finalist for the Aphrodite Award in the Natwest everywoman Awards 2016
- CEO Dana Denis-Smith named as legal sector’s ‘Outstanding Innovator’ at the Legal Week Legal Innovation Awards 2015
- Winner of the Innovation Marketing Award at the Legal Innovation Awards 2016
- Included in the Financial Times’ Innovative Lawyers Award every year since 2012
- Member of the London Stock Exchange Elite 50
- Member of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses