Legal Week name Dana Denis-Smith as ‘Outstanding Innovator’ in 2015

Completing a triple-win of high profile awards, Dana Denis-Smith, the CEO of Obelisk Support, has been named as this year’s ‘Outstanding Innovator’ at The Legal Innovation Awards 2015.

The awards, which are open to law firms, in-house teams and alternative providers of legal support such as Obelisk, are designed to uncover and celebrate groundbreaking innovation in the delivery of legal services.

Dana’s pioneering vision and values impressed the independent judging panel, which included many senior figures such as Dame Janet Gaymer, Chair of the Management Board of the House of Commons, Oonagh Harpur, non-executive director, Government Legal Department, Peter Kurer, former GC and Chairman of UBS and Paul Philip, CEO of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

This year’s awards – titled “Beyond Theory; Celebrating creative excellence in the legal profession” – set out to “recognise and reward the people who are driving the legal profession forward by applying imagination and ingenuity to take good ideas off the drawing board and turn them into products that improve the delivery of legal advice. The profession continues to develop and adapt but there are some within the sector who are setting the pace. It is time to acknowledge those practices, teams and individuals who are doing things differently.”

This latest award comes just weeks after Obelisk was named by The Times newspaper as one of the Top 50 Employers for Women in the UK, and Obelisk was given the prestigious Investors in People accreditation – recognised across the world as a mark of excellence in people management.

London-based Obelisk provides professional outsourcing to in-house legal teams and major law firms. The founding principle behind the business is to re-engage highly skilled lawyers who leave the profession to raise families. Through Obelisk, lawyer parents choose the hours they want to work, giving them the flexibility they need to combine careers with family life. By bringing her innovation to the legal sector, Dana Denis-Smith has created a triple-win formula for Obelisk’s clients, lawyers and their families.

Dana was presented with the Outstanding Innovator award by Legal Week’s Deputy Editor Charlotte Edmond at the ceremony in central London on Friday. The audience was told: “Dana has been at the forefront of the movement to promote flexible working, and in particular helping mums get back to work.  She is constantly finding new ways to get alternate ways of working accepted and has helped provide a voice of reason in a hotly debated area.”

Speaking after the awards, Dana Denis-Smith said:

“When I created Obelisk in 2010 I wanted to build a new type of legal business, in which flexible working is seen as a real strength by both our clients and our lawyers, we use technology to enable us all to work in different ways and we value people as human beings. Creating change takes an enormous amount of time and effort, but with awards like this from Legal Week, judged by such a senior team of people, it shows driving innovation and change brings real rewards.” “I would like to thank all the judges in this year’s Legal Week Innovation Awards for their support for what we are doing at Obelisk – mixing innovation with traditional values around treating people and families well.”

Obelisk has ambitious plans for growing the company by working with more clients and consultants, and this year Dana is launching a series of ground-breaking projects to drive change for women in the workplace, including the First 100 Years. Supported by the Law Society and the Bar Council, the project runs over the next four years, marking 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919. Inspired by her trio of recent awards Dana Denis-Smith said: “As an entrepreneur and a business leader dedicated to creating positive change in the legal sector, I will always seek to drive innovation and find new and exciting ways to make work work for our clients, our lawyers and their families. It’s what inspires me, and with more and more awards, it’s clearly inspiring for the legal sector too.”