Jessica is an experienced commercial lawyer and healthcare specialist, who has worked both as in-house counsel and in private practice.
Can you describe your experience of working through Obelisk?
I really love that the Obelisk team show their care for me as a consultant. The team clearly want me to do my best and are working hard to find the right kinds of opportunities for me. I like the regular check-ins that I get from everyone on the team, which very much sets Obelisk apart from other agencies through which I have worked, and the ongoing training and networking opportunities.
What makes your expertise unique?
I have more than 25 years of experience as a senior lawyer at law firm partnership level as well as in-house head of legal, leading teams and client relationships. I have worked closely with both public and private sector clients, with a particular focus in commercial and in health and social care legal advice. My skills are very broad, covering major capital projects, funding, commercial arrangements, SaaS and other tech agreements, business joint ventures, shareholders agreements, integration of services, outsourcing, and R&D work. I am also qualified as a Data Protection Officer and Data Protection practitioner
What’s the most rewarding aspect of flexible working as a lawyer?
I have been able to enjoy a swim every morning before work instead of sitting on the tube, I have been able to spend more time with my teenage children, and I really enjoy being more in control of my working day.
What’s the most challenging?
Keeping the right mix and amount of workflow does take some focus and time. I do miss a regular team and office relationships. And my home office can sometimes get a bit full of cats, washing and cups – sometimes I miss the clear space of an office that’s not all around my personal to-do list!
What are your proudest professional and personal achievements so far?
I always find this kind of question very hard to answer – all of my work as a lawyer is driven by my sense of professionalism and my “calling” as a legal advisor – to do the best for clients who are often in times of extreme stress and pressure when I get called. I would particularly highlight my time advising NHS boards at a strategic level. They have to ensure they deliver high quality care to patients at all time whilst balancing political pressure, complex regulatory obligations, managing many stakeholders, often with not enough budget or resource and yet doing the right thing every time.
How do you find the right work/life balance?
I think taking the step away from being in a law firm and into consultancy work is a big part of the answer to that! I do think this has been one of the hardest things to get right in my career. As lawyers we have to give the client the advice that is necessary without reference to the time – it’s sometimes just not appropriate or professional to sign off at 5:30. A really strong law firm management and people-orientated ethos within a firm really helps with this.
What are your words of advice to other legal consultants?
That is such a broad question! Make time for yourself, keep your client at the front of your advice and focus, but be aware of other stakeholders and be commercial about what really matters when advising
How do you start and end your day?
I have never been the best morning person, so I go for a swim most mornings, come back for a relaxing cup of coffee and breakfast, and start my day at a decent hour, though obviously if a client needs advice, that will take precedence. I will work for as long as is needed on client matters so the end of my day will vary from an early stop if I can, or working as late as is required.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Hah! I had to look that one up – what qualifies as a superpower? I think telepathy or mind control – imagine the advantage in difficult negotiations , or being able to understand the real position of others in the room!