“We have big aspirations”: Obelisk hires former Huntswood CEO as chairman

Obelisk Legal Support Solutions has hired former Huntswood CEO and corporate finance veteran Mark Humphries as its chairman, we can reveal, as the already fast-growing alternative legal services provider looks to scale up its offering and capitalise on the trend towards flexible working.

Humphries, who before joining financial services resourcing and consultancy firm Huntswood was senior partner at Catalyst Corporate Finance, started at the beginning of April. He will join board meetings and help to mentor and coach the Obelisk management team, led by founder and CEO Dana Denis-Smith.

Huntswood’s mission statement of sorts is that it combines people, process and technology to help firms deliver high quality services in a cost efficient way. That resonates strongly with Obelisk’s business, which since it was founded in 2010 has provided a growing number of freelance lawyers to businesses, many of whom are women who are returning to the workplace.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Humphries said: “The business I worked in was a bigger business but we have big aspirations for Obelisk.

“Huntswood had a similar kind of flexible working model. Clients wanted to buy people to work on projects for relatively short periods of time. We had in that case a pool of around 10,000 people working in banks and financial institutions. I don’t think there is the capacity in the legal market for that number but our ambition is to scale Obelisk and to support our clients and consultants as we look to the future of work.

The future is flexible working and working in a more agile way, using technology to work remotely while providing the same level of service to the client. Law firms are grappling with this because they are big businesses and change slowly. Obelisk is the right business, with the right model, at the right time.”

As we revealed in November 2018, Obelisk has built and launched a cloud-based time recording app for its employees to record their time on the go. The app, which is for both iOS and Android, means that time is being recorded much quicker and provides Obelisk’s management with better visibility over how time is being spent.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider at that time, Denis-Smith said: “People download the app on their mobile phone to record how much time they have worked in a week when they are working on a project. It’s much quicker and gives us much more visibility of how much time is being spent on a job.” It also enables Obelisk to help match the right talent to the right job.

Having begun developing its own software in 2015, Obelisk’s internal team has built its own work management platform using open source web application framework Ruby on Rails.

Denis-Smith said: “We’ve done a lot of work on the internal platform on how to manage the journey to automate for example on-boarding or listing information on a CV to populate a profile, so we can deliver work to clients quickly.”