The Financial Times (FT) Awards celebrate the best in legal innovation from law firms and in-house legal teams across Europe. The topic of legal innovation is more prominent than ever, with businesses on the hunt for new ways to champion innovative technology. For example, exploring the metaverse and researching further opportunities in Big Data. This year, the awards have created a buzz in the legal industry by hosting their first in-person event in London since 2019.
We are extremely proud to announce that Obelisk Support has been shortlisted for the category: Innovative Leader. The Innovative Leader Award recognises leaders of innovation within the legal sector and the Law Firms that champion this pioneering approach.
We sat down with our Founder and CEO Dana Denis-Smith and Head of Talent Laura Vosper to hear their thoughts and reflections ahead of the 2022 FT Awards ceremony.
Click here to see the full 2022 FT Awards shortlist.
Dana Denis-Smith: Obelisk Support Founder & CEO
How does it feel to be shortlisted for the FT Innovative Leader Award?
“It is an incredible honour to be shortlisted for the FT Innovative Leader award! Obelisk Support was founded with the principles of inclusion, flexibility, and innovation, so to be recognised for achieving this is a dream come true. Some people may not know this, but we were previously shortlisted for the FT Awards 10 years ago. It has been extremely thought provoking to reflect on these past 10 years with Obelisk Support and see how much we have achieved as a business with innovation at the forefront.”
Is there a moment that stands out for you in building Obelisk Support since you started the business?
“One moment that really stands out for me is when I met the first person who truly understood my vision for Obelisk Support. To have that recognition and encouragement as you are taking the huge first steps of building a business is indispensable to your self-belief and motivation. If we had built Obelisk Support based on the fear of the “what ifs” rather than the potential, I highly doubt we would be celebrating our 12th birthday this year. I am forever in awe of the team and our community of consultants and clients at Obelisk Support, as we continue to grow together and share our values with the legal industry.”
How has your vision for Obelisk Support’s impact on the legal profession evolved from when you first established the business?
“It was a trip to India that first inspired the simple idea behind Obelisk Support – we could create opportunities to work in the legal sector for individuals needing to juggle life and work through outsourcing. I noticed older people being pushed out of law firms, despite being highly skilled and thus saw opportunity where others saw weakness. I wanted to introduce the ethos of flexibility and innovation to the legal profession and create enough traction to implement a cultural shift in the way lawyers and paralegals work.
12 years on and I am still, if not more, passionate about addressing key social problems and using Obelisk Support as a beacon for such issues. With the business being recognised for awards such as the FT Awards, it allows for the platform and resources to start a conversation, that I did not have access to 12 years ago. The biggest evolution over the years has been the change from “how can we get the profession to adopt our values?” to “Obelisk Support is living proof that our values work”.”
In your eyes, what does Obelisk Support look like as a business in 10 years’ time?
“With so many people being pushed out by the culture of billable hours and presenteeism of traditional firms, it is crucial that Obelisk Support maintains to provide a different route and way of working that suits people’s lives. Over the coming years, as the legal industry continues to embrace the innovation of legal tech and the demand for flexible legal support increases, Obelisk Support will remain at its core a pioneer of inclusion, flexibility, and innovation. We will continue to move with the times and stay ahead of the legal trends affecting lawyers and paralegals, whilst also providing the support and encouragement our #HumanFirst values embody.”
Laura Vosper: Head of Talent
As the Head of Talent at OS, how has Obelisk’s innovative approach to legal work encouraged consultants to join our community?
“Our flexible model means that legal professionals, who may have felt they had to leave the profession, have been able to stay in the sector and thrive. By creating meaningful work opportunities that fit alongside other commitments, we enable consultants to grow both their expertise and confidence. I think consultants also value the fact that we are consistent champions of flexible working – knocking down the barriers around part-time and homeworking is at the heart of what we do.”
Throughout your time at OS, has there been any standout moments that brought home the importance of promoting inclusive flexible legal work?
“Too many to mention! I am always inspired when I see our consultants flourishing in opportunities they didn’t think could exist for them. It’s a particular pleasure to see professionals who have combined legal freelance work alongside their family commitments move up and on into new challenges when their children need them less. Working as a flexible consultant allows you not just to stay in the profession, but also to build experience, acumen and people skills that are a valuable asset as life evolves and your career progresses.”
In your eyes, what does Obelisk Support look like for paralegals and lawyers in 10 years’ time?
“In terms of the larger trends, I think we are going to see more and more demand for flexible legal support at all levels, so our community will be bigger and more aspiring lawyers will be building their qualifying work experience with us. I also think that it’s going to be increasingly important for legal consultants to invest time and effort in their personal brand, so they will be tapping into Obelisk Support to help them develop their niche and stand out to clients. And, of course, technology is going to move on, which will make it easier to pick up and deliver work remotely and require new types of legal practitioner and different expertise. Keeping pace with both legal tech and wider technological advances is not optional!”