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Deputy General Counsel & Director, Legal Group

New York City (United States of America)

  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: New York City (United States of America)
  • Grade: D-1, Director - Internationally recruited position - Senior Executive level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
    • Managerial positions
  • Closing Date: 2020-11-10

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Background Information - UNOPS

UNOPS is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Our mission is to help people build better lives and countries achieve sustainable development.

UNOPS areas of expertise cover infrastructure, procurement, project management, financial management and human resources.

Working with us

UNOPS offers short- and long-term work opportunities in diverse and challenging environments across the globe. We are looking for creative, results-focused professionals with skills in a range of disciplines.


With over 4,000 UNOPS personnel and approximately 7,000 personnel recruited on behalf of UNOPS partners spread across 80 countries, our workforce represents a wide range of nationalities and cultures. We promote a balanced, diverse workforce — a strength that helps us better understand and address our partners’ needs, and continually strive to improve our gender balance through initiatives and policies that encourage recruitment of qualified female candidates.

Work life harmonization

UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands.

Background Information - Job-specific

Role of the Deputy General Counsel and Director, Legal Group

Reporting to the General Counsel, the Deputy General Counsel and Director, Legal Group, is responsible for developing, maintaining and continually improving UNOPS legal policies and procedures to ensure they meet the emerging needs of the organization.  

As Deputy General Counsel, the role supports strategic legal advisory services such as identifying the legal implications of the organization's major decisions, strategies and transactions, as directed by the General Counsel.  

The role also supports the General Counsel, in developing, maintaining and advancing relationships with Member States and Organizations of the UN System in conjunction with the New York Liaison Office and the Partnerships Group.

The core responsibilities of the position are to: 

  • Manage a team of legal advisors to ensure the technical advice and assistance provided is client-focused, in line with the established legal framework and of consistently high quality.

  • Manage any claims and disputes brought by or against the organization.

  • Provide guidance and authoritative interpretations as required for the Integrated Practice Advice and Support (IPAS) Unit Legal Team, on project agreements, legal policies and procedures.

Functional Responsibilities

Summary of functions:
  • Strategic advisory
  • Knowledge management and innovation
  • Legal Group leadership
  • Legal advice
Strategic advisory
  • Provide the General Counsel with timely and accurate management reports, strategic advice and proposals  to ensure the immediate and longer term implications, opportunities and risks of business decisions are fully considered, and aligned with the organization’s relevant strategies.

  • Advise General Counsel on the UNOPS Delegation of Authority framework and policy, review compliance with the terms of delegations and propose corrective actions as required in case of substantial deviations. 

  • Render advice on governance to General Counsel and provide legal advice to the wider organization on risk and compliance matters relating to operations.

  • Partner with the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer in evaluating UNOPS activities/initiatives as well as methodologies and standards, to facilitate their alignment with the framework and standards for accountability, ethics and integrity.

  • As delegated by General Counsel, represent UNOPS internally and externally on issues related to all aspects of legal services and contracting.

  • Acts as Officer-in-Charge in the absence of the General Counsel.

  • Perform other strategic legal advisory services as directed by the General Counsel.  

Knowledge management and innovation
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing and development of capacity of the legal specialists across the organization (Legal Group, IPAS and regionally), ensuring technical advice and assistance are consistently high quality, client focused and within the established legal and regulatory framework.

  • Contribute to enabling the culture of ongoing research, development and implementation of best practice and innovative approaches, to maximize performance and sustain results.

  • Contribute to enabling a knowledge sharing culture, ensuring collaboration and continuous feedback through different channels, as appropriate.

Legal Group leadership
  • Develop the strategy and establish priorities for the Legal Group with input from the General Counsel.

  • Lead the Legal Group in the delivery against its plans and objectives, reporting on progress to the General Counsel. Ensure services and priorities are aligned, integrated, high quality and responsive.

  • Assess the performance and efficacy of the legal functions across the organization, and make decisions and/or recommendations for major changes and/or alignment in operations to enhance and/or maintain efficacy.  

  • Coordinate responses to internal and external audit observations regarding legal practices.

  • Operate within the defined limits of authority on matters of Finance, Procurement and Human Resources and subject to any limits or conditions that may be imposed as per delegated authority.

  • Support the allocation of resources within the Legal Group, to achieve high quality of service delivery, whilst ensuring cost effectiveness.

  • Ensure effective planning, recruitment and development of a flexible workforce across the Legal Group, with the skills and competencies needed to ensure optimum performance, and ensure gender and geographical diversity. 

  • Promote teamwork and collaboration across the team. Foster a positive work environment, respectful of both men and women, and ensure that the highest standards of conduct are observed.

Legal advice 
  • Based on the guidance from General Counsel, maintain and continually improve the corporate legal framework and ensure the frameworks are in place to facilitate compliance.

  • Establish contracting mechanisms in alignment with UNOPS’ strategic goals and future growth.

  • Lead the provision of review and advice on relevant human resources, institutional and commercial matters; and other documents and agreements where required, assuming direct responsibility for especially complex and sensitive matters, as necessary.

  • Manage disputes and claims against the organization and recommend resolutions, working with the General Counsel on especially complex and sensitive matters, as necessary.

  • Ensure that outputs produced by the Legal Group maintain high-quality standards; that reports are clear, objective and based on comprehensive data. Ensures that all outputs produced  meet required standards before completion to ensure they comply with the relevant mandates.

  • Provide legal advice to policyholders, on the content/release of global policies and procedures.

  • Lead the provision of guidance and authoritative interpretations as required for the Integrated Practice Advice and Support (IPAS) Unit Legal Team, on project agreements, legal policies and procedures.

  • In close cooperation with the People and Change Group and UN Office of Legal Affairs, take overall responsibility for the administration of justice, formal appeals and disciplinary cases.


Develops and implements sustainable business strategies, thinks long term and externally in order to positively shape the organization. Anticipates and perceives the impact and implications of future decisions and activities on other parts of the organization.
Treats all individuals with respect; responds sensitively to differences and encourages others to do the same. Upholds organizational and ethical norms. Maintains high standards of trustworthiness. Role model for diversity and inclusion.
Acts as a positive role model contributing to the team spirit. Collaborates and supports the development of others. For people managers only: Acts as positive leadership role model, motivates, directs and inspires others to succeed, utilizing appropriate leadership styles.
Demonstrates understanding of the impact of own role on all partners and always puts the end beneficiary first. Builds and maintains strong external relationships and is a competent partner for others.
Efficiently establishes an appropriate course of action for self and/or others to accomplish a goal. Actions lead to total task accomplishment through concern for quality in all areas. Sees opportunities and takes the initiative to act on them. Understands that responsible use of resources maximizes our impact on our beneficiaries.
Open to change and flexible in a fast paced environment. Effectively adapts own approach to suit changing circumstances or requirements. Reflects on experiences and modifies own behavior. Performance is consistent, even under pressure. Always pursues continuous improvements.
Evaluates data and courses of action to reach logical, pragmatic decisions. Takes an unbiased, rational approach with calculated risks. Applies innovation and creativity to problem-solving.
Expresses ideas or facts in a clear, concise and open manner. Communication indicates a consideration for the feelings and needs of others. Actively listens and proactively shares knowledge. Handles conflict effectively, by overcoming differences of opinion and finding common ground.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) preferably in law and licensed in one or more fields of legal jurisdiction.


  • A minimum of 15 years of relevant professional managerial experience in a law function within the public, private and/or nonprofit sector at both national and international levels. 

  • At least 5 years of leadership experience including demonstrated experience of supervising teams, is required.

  • Strong understanding and knowledge of the United Nations system, including the privileges and immunities of international organizations, and international administrative law as practiced in international organizations is an asset. 

  • An impeccable record for integrity and professional ethical standards is required.

  • Demonstrated experience managing complex stakeholder interactions and negotiations is required. 


  • Full working knowledge of English. 
  • Knowledge of another official UN language is an asset.

Additional Considerations

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • UNOPS seeks to reasonably accommodate candidates with special needs, upon request.
  • Work life harmonization - UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands. We have a progressive policy on work-life harmonization and offer several flexible working options. This policy applies to UNOPS personnel on all contract types
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • For retainer contracts, you must complete a few Mandatory Courses (around 4 hours) in your own time, before providing services to UNOPS.
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns. Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.

Contract type, level and duration

Contract type: Staff 

Contract level: D1

Contract duration: One year initially, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and funding availability

For more details about United Nations staff contracts, please follow this link:

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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