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Obelisk Support’s Dana Denis-Smith

Obelisk Support, an alternative legal service provider which supports in-house legal teams at businesses including BT, British Business Bank, ING Bank and Ocado, has become one of a small handful of legal businesses to achieve B Corp status.

The designation demonstrates Obelisk has met rigorous social and environmental standards, alongside ensuring profit and principles run together in delivering its mission to change the way lawyers work.

B Corp certification covers five key impact areas across all elements of Obelisk’s business operations, namely: governance, workers, community, environment and customers.

Applicants supply evidence of socially and environmentally responsible practices relating to energy supplies, waste and water use, worker compensation, diversity and corporate transparency, while undergoing a strict certification process. Legal services firms make up less than 1% of the 1,500 B Corps in the UK.

Obelisk said the award reflected the firm’s inclusive, people-centred approach in working with one of the UK’s largest vetted freelance legal teams, with more than 2,000 consultants.

Dana Denis-Smith, founder and CEO of Obelisk Support, who was a judge for the Women and Diversity in Law Awards 2023, said certification would enable the business to refocus on its core values, having provided external validation of the values it has held since inception.

Calling the process “rigorous, lengthy, and highly evidential”, she said Obelisk has been “pushed to become the very best business we can be”, which has created an improved and sustainable business framework.

She added: “Certification safeguards our founding principle of ‘Human First’. For our team, it shows them that we’re serious about treating them like people, not profit centres. For our clients, it provides them with the reassurance that we actively pursue a better way of doing business and they can access not only a quality legal service, but one that centres on ethical business principles.

“There’s also an important message for the legal profession that you can pursue both profit and purpose. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. In fact, given the way environmental, societal and governance issues are driving corporate agendas today, B Corp status provides the profession with a recognised way of aligning with client agendas.”

Chris Turner, executive director of B Lab UK, the not-for-profit behind the B Corp movement, welcomed the award, saying the initiative was “a movement of companies who are committed to changing how business operates and believe business really can be a force for good.”

He added: “Obelisk are going to be a fantastic addition to the community and will continue driving the conversation forward,” providing “an opportunity to lead the way within the legal industry.” 

The certification places Obelisk alongside firms such as Anthony Collins, Bates Wells, Brabners, Radiant Law and Stephens Scown.

Mishcon de Reya withdrew from the scheme in October 2022, seven months after becoming only the third law firm to achieve B Corp status. The firm said it had difficulty balancing its sustainability commitments with its professional obligations, but would seek similar, alternative certification elsewhere, adding that it remained “fully committed to the principles and values it supports”.

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