Legal Officer - Open Society Justice Initiative

Open Society Foundations
London / New York / Washington
Competitive salary + excellent benefits
Closing date
18 Sep 2020
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Do you want to help make the world a better place with your practical litigation experience involving climate change and human rights?

We are seeking a Legal Officer based in London, New York or Washington, D.C. to develop and execute strategies of complex climate change or environmental justice litigation with their strong climate change or environmental justice project management skills, research and drafting skills. Justice Initiative’s climate justice work centres human rights and social and economic equity in climate solutions, focusing on the right to a clean and healthy environment and associated rights generally and specifically on anthropogenic impact resulting from deforestation and GHG emissions, among other priorities.

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people. We are active in more than 120 countries, making us the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights.

The Open Society Justice Initiative (JI) uses strategic litigation and other kinds of legal advocacy to defend and promote the rule of law and to advance human rights. We employ litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance across a range of issues.

As a Legal Officer at Open Society, you will:

  • Conceptualize strategic human rights litigation on climate change and or environmental justice;
  • Identify and assess potential cases on climate change/ environmental justice for litigation by the Justice Initiative and or its partners;
  • Develop a holistic litigation strategy for selected cases that incorporates collaboration with technical and community experts, community mobilization/sensitization, general and media advocacy;
  • Manage and execute litigation strategy for selected/assigned cases, including leading/overseeing specific-case litigation teams of lawyers and experts; 
  • Draft legal applications, briefs, pleadings and other documents for submission to domestic and international administrative forums, tribunals and courts;
  • Provide technical assistance and strategic advice to Open Society Foundations network and Justice Initiative partners involved in climate change/environmental justice;
  • Provide litigation advice to and guide on development of subject-matter knowledge for team members and other programs of the Open Society Foundations.

What we are looking for:

  • Experience with public law and especially human rights law. Degree in Law with substantial post-qualification experience and a solid background in litigation in the United States of America;
  • Demonstrated experience in conceptualizing and managing complex climate change/ environmental justice litigation;
  • Demonstrated experience in managing litigation teams and in working with technical non-legal experts to support litigation, including analysis and preparation of complex expert evidence for use in litigation;
  • Practical experience with case and document management in a busy law practice or with an organization involved in complex litigation;
  • Experience in providing litigation support throughout the different stages, including research, intake interviews with clients; preparation of legal filings, including fact checking and cite checking; organizing evidence; collating authorities, preparing case summaries and managing litigation teams;
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct research, write and edit a range of different materials including reports, legal documents, blogs and submissions for different audiences;
  • Proficiency in English, with strong written and oral communication skills;
  • Availability to engage in substantial travel;
  • Desirable (but not required): Experience in strategic litigation in different jurisdictions is an added advantage; Practical experience of working with non-governmental organizations highly desirable; Working knowledge of French or Spanish an added advantage; Experience with record keeping, budgeting management and finance administration highly desirable.

We offer ample opportunities to learn and grow, from annual professional development allowances to onsite trainings and brown bag lunches with visiting experts, as well as top-notch benefits and perks designed for your well-being and a healthy work-life balance.

If this sounds like the position you have been looking for, please submit your cover letter and a resume via our website. We look forward to learning more about you.

Closing date: 18 September 2020.

We aim to build an inclusive workforce that is reflective of the populations we support, and actively seek applications from those who are marginalized and underrepresented. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and colleagues with disabilities.

Open Society Foundations


The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to criticism, whose laws and policies are open to debate and correction, and whose political institutions are open to the participation of all people. We seek to strengthen justice and the rule of law; broaden respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities; encourage pluralism and a robust diversity of opinion; deepen democratic practice and participation; expand economic equity; support effective governance; and invest in individuals, public and private organizations, and social movements that advance these goals.

We are a global network of foundations committed to local knowledge and national expertise. Our network includes national foundations, regional foundations, and other geographic programs operating in more than one hundred countries. At the same time, many programs with global reach operate from our four headquarters in Europe and the United States, including programs on digital information, documentary photography, drug policy, early childhood, education, fellowships, fiscal governance, higher education, human rights, international migration, justice, public health, scholarships, think tanks, and women’s rights. In addition to making grants to organizations and individuals, the Open Society Foundations engage in policy advocacy, legal advocacy and litigation, program-related investing, and public communications, as well as providing direct assistance to governments. Most programs and foundations in the network are governed or advised by their own boards.

The Open Society Foundations are the global philanthropies of George Soros, who, as chairman, plays an active role in the work of the foundations.

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