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Legal Specialist

New York City

  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: New York City
  • Grade: Level not specified - Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
  • Closing Date: Closed
UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.
UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.

UNDP’s mandate is to end poverty, build democratic governance, rule of law, and inclusive institutions. We advocate for change, and connect countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life.

As the United Nations lead agency on international development, UNDP works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities, and to build resilience to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Our work is concentrated in three focus areas: sustainable development, democratic governance and peace building, and climate and disaster resilience.

UNDP personnel are united by a common purpose: to help countries and communities across the world pursue peaceful, prosperous lives, lived in harmony with the planet. The Office of Legal Services in the Bureau for Management Services (BMS/OLS) provides strategic legal services of the highest standard to UNDP, UNCDF and UN Volunteers, giving pragmatic and timely legal advice that enables the right people to make good decisions.

BMS/OLS is seeking outstanding, proactive lawyers with a strong public service background, and the capacity and commitment needed to deliver transformative impact. We are seeking colleagues who challenge, inspire, and deliver sustained results.


Duties and Responsibilities:

The Corporate and Institutional Team (C+I) within BMS/OLS advises on:

  • Legal aspects of UNDP’s mandate, legal framework and matters related to its corporate and institutional structure.
  • legal aspects of commercial contracts, including procurement contracts, agreements with non-staff personnel and other vendors/services providers, leases and other real estate matters, and contracts for banking services.
  • legal aspects and issues arising from partnerships, including financing arrangements with donors.
  • Legal arrangements for and issues arising from inter-agency collaboration. 

Under the overall supervision of the General Counsel and Director of BMS/OLS and reporting directly to the Senior Legal Advisor and Head of C+I, the Legal Specialist provides support to UNDP senior management, headquarters, Regional Bureaux and Country Offices as well as to the other Funds and Agencies, as appropriate, in the C+I practice area.

Specifically, under the guidance of the Senior Legal Adviser, the Legal Advisor performs the following primary functions:

Legal advice, guidance and counsel on contractual claim avoidance, mitigation and management, including:

  • Reviewing and negotiating complex contracts, reviewing claims and advising on the negotiation and settlement, and where appropriate arbitration, of claims and disputes arising from agreements, contracts and other arrangements, including commercial claims and disputes involving the Organization.

Legal advice, guidance and counsel on commercial matters, including:

  • Drafting, review and negotiation, and clearing deviations to standard, contracts for goods and services, civil works, leases and premises agreements, banking and other agreement with vendors, in close consultation with the respective internal client(s).

Legal advice, guidance and counsel on partnership arrangements and donor financing agreements between various partners and donors, and UNDP, including:

  • Drafting, review and negotiations, and clearing deviations to standard, donor financing agreements and partnership instruments.
  • Reviews and, as required, negotiates and revises corporate agreements with partners, including donors, which govern their overall relationship with UNDP in close consultation with the respective internal client.

Legal advice, guidance and counsel on corporate and institutional issues, and matters arising from the Organization’s status, mandate and legal structure:

  • Support in providing legal advice on the interpretation and application of the Organization’s mandate and legal framework including with respect to the financial regulations, and rules, prescriptive content (policies and procedures) and questions and matters involving privileges and immunities of the Organization (the latter in coordination with UN/OLA).
  • Legal advice and assistance with respect to the Organization’s interagency arrangements, common issues and provision of services, including related to multi-partner trust funds and other arrangements.

Creation and maintenance of a robust institutional and corporate legal system, training activities and knowledge management:

  • Assists in facilitating training programs on institutional, corporate and commercial issues for UNDP personnel globally.
  • Development and updating of agreements and templates, reviews non-standard agreements and provides advice on the creation and interpretation of policies and procedures that BMS/OLS is responsible for.
  • Regularly updates the Senior Legal Adviser on legal issues in the matters assigned, and identifies recurring issues based on experience gained from addressing issues related to any of the above-mentioned functions.
  • Identifies and advises on areas where systemic or policy changes may be warranted in order to strengthen UNDP’s accountability and/or allow operational units to carry out their functions more effectively and efficiently, including review of standard texts, policies and procedures, in consultation with the concerned substantive unit.



Core Competencies UNDP Core Competencies can be found here.

Achieve Results

  • LEVEL 3:  Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact.    

Think Innovatively

  • LEVEL 3: Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems.   

Learn Continuously

  • LEVEL 3: Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences.

Adapt with Agility

  •    LEVEL 3: Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands.

 Act with Determination

  • LEVEL 3: Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results.    

Engage and Partner

  • LEVEL 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration.  

Enable Diversity and Inclusion

  • LEVEL 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity.

Cross-Functional & Technical competencies:

Business Management - Customer Satisfaction/Client Management

  • Ability to respond timely and appropriately with a sense of urgency, provide consistent solutions, and deliver timely and quality results and/or solutions to fulfil and understand the real customers' needs. Provide inputs to the development of customer service strategy. Look for ways to add value beyond clients' immediate requests. Ability to anticipate client's upcoming needs and concerns.

Business Development - Integration within the UN

  • Ability to identity, and integrate capacity and assets of the UN system, and engage in joint work; knowledge of the UN System and ability to apply this knowledge to strategic and/or practical situations.

Legal - Knowledge of privileges and immunities

  • Understanding the legal basis for privileges and immunities, specifically the General Convention and the standard basic assistance agreements, and the application of privileges and immunities corporately.

Business Management - Risk Management

  • Ability to identify and organize action around mitigating and proactively managing risks.

Legal - Negotiation

  • The ability to work with others to conclude or settle a matter. These are often soft skills and include abilities such as communication, persuasion, planning, strategizing and cooperating. In the UNDP context, this skill includes working closely with the client to understand the parameters of an acceptable solution, assisting business units in resolving commercial disputes, working with staff members or their legal representatives to resolve a grievance, claim or issue. Negotiation often involves working with people who hold differing views to arrive at an acceptable corporate solution.

Legal - Legal analysis skills

  • The ability to digest large amounts of information to frame and understand an issue, apply the legal framework, and present a coherent and comprehensive analysis that delivers practical and meaningful advice. This skill includes the ability to make an objective assessment of a matter, provide the organization’s best arguments for proceeding, and offer a recommended course of action. It also includes the capacity to think creatively and flexibly, within the applicable legal framework.

Legal - Legal writing skills

  • The ability to analyse fact patterns and present written arguments. This includes the ability to draft memoranda, legal briefs and other submissions to external parties, in both an advocacy and objective format, and legal opinions. It also includes the ability to convey legal analysis and recommendations to internal parties who may not have a legal background.
Required Skills and Experience
  • An advanced degree (Master’s Degree) in law from a recognized university
  • A minimum of 7 years practical experience in the practice of law with a law firm, a government and/or international organization's legal office is required.
  • Understanding of and experience with the United Nations system, including its Legal Framework and the legal institutional arrangements of United Nations organizations including, the privileges and immunities of international organizations, is an asset.
  • Practical and progressive experience in effective contractual dispute prevention, and contractual dispute resolution, including litigation before courts, arbitration, or other forms of dispute resolution required.
  • Experience with UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules highly desirable.
  • Excellent project management skills, the ability to monitor and follow up on many activities concurrently under time constraints and the ability to understand and manage priorities.
  • Excellent research, legal writing and drafting skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and client focus.
  • An impeccable record for integrity and professional ethical standards.


  • Excellent command of written and spoken English and French is required.
  • Fluency in Spanish is an asset.


Please note that continuance of appointment beyond the initial 12 months is contingent upon the successful completion of a probationary period.
Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment. 
UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.
Applicant information about UNDP rosters
Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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