Job Title: Head of Legal

Client: British Council

Location: Spring Gardens, London SW1A

Status: Fixed Term Contract of 18 months duration

Package: circa £90,000 plus 32 days annual leave & statutory holidays and an impressive range of family friendly policies

Role purpose: To provide strategic oversight of global legal risk through:

  • identifying the risks: both immediate and longer term; in the businesses and in the regions; and encompassing the nature of the organisation which is to work across a matrix, with partners in the UK and internationally, and with the UK governments.
  • advising the CEO, Executive, Chair and Board on risks and advised mitigations
  • ensuring a comprehensive, efficient and cost effective legal advisory service is provided across the British Council that protects and develops its interests to strengthen its cultural relations purpose.

The team is supported as required by advice from external lawyers through outsourcing arrangements in the UK and overseas on transactional issues. The internal team has oversight over the use of outsourcing arrangements.  Direct support from the internal team is focussed on business-critical core legal issues, including: co-creation partnerships, new business models, related relationships with government and the Charity Commission and related approvals, conflict of laws/cross-border issues, legal status, oversight of major contracts and strategy for resolution of major disputes, where it is more effective to provide the advice internally. The role will also lead the ongoing implementation of the Legal Change programme including implementation of the case management system.

About us: The British Council is the UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries.  We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with - changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.

Function overview: The Head of Legal reports to the Director of Corporate Affairs who reports to the CEO. By the nature of the functions in Corporate Affairs, there is significant daily interaction with the Global Leadership Team, a wide range of colleagues around the British Council's global network and external stakeholders. The Head of Legal will also interact with the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Main opportunities / challenges for this role: In understanding its work and seeking to build trust between the UK and countries across the world, the British Council recognises that legal principles and practices must inform the range of its decision making and how it conducts its partnership and activities in the UK and internationally.

Consistent with this, the Head of Legal provides expert legal advice, risk assessment and risk mitigation across its entire global network to de-risk a credible and fit for purpose portfolio of cultural relations work. The role acts as an authoritative voice for the organisation and makes contributions to strengthen its reputation. It ensures that policies, initiatives and action plans support strategic priorities and help deliver identified outcomes in partnership with internal and external stakeholders at a national and international level.

Main Accountabilities: The post has line management responsibility for 3 Senior Legal Advisors and 3 indirect reports plus a budget responsibility of c£180k for direct costs. The post has oversight of the corporate expenditure on external legal services.  The main responsibilities for the role are:

  •  Provide strategic oversight of legal risks in the British Council, both in relation to current activity, as well as key change programmes, major investments and new business models, to ensure decision-making is informed and supported by legal advice to protect and develop the organisation's interests.
  • Lead on legal risk management across the British Council's global operations including the overseas network, business units and corporate functions to ensure a proactive approach to legal risk management.
  • Provide strategic oversight of the legal status for the British Council group, including subsidiaries and new entities, to ensure decision-making is informed and supported by legal advice to protect and develop the organisation.
  • Manage and develop clear policies and guidelines for the provision of outsourced legal advice both in the UK and overseas that ensure suitable oversight, quality assurance and cost control.
  • Maintain effective oversight of all major contracts, disputes and other significant legal issues across the British Council.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with internal stakeholders including the overseas network to embed a legal perpective that proactively informs business decision making.
  • Proactively develop legal knowledge and understanding throughout the British Council, including overseas and within support functions and business units to enhance awareness and capability in legal matters (for example commercial contracting capability). 
  • Manage the human and financial resources of the legal team to ensure a high quality, cost effective service is provided.
  • Ensure effective processes are in place to monitor and assess implications of changes in laws which affect the operations of the British Council, together with other stakeholders where appropriate.
  • Effective membership and contribution to the Corporate Affairs Leadership team .
  • Specific contributions to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda.

 Key Relationships:

  • Board of Trustees and Executive Board
  • Regional and Country Directors
  • Business Directors
  • Human Resources colleagues
  • Safeguarding teams
  • Governance team
  • Contract Management team
  • Relevant government and other public bodies
  • Equality and Diversity team
  • Global Network team
  • Finance, Global Estates, Procurement

Role Requirements / Person Specification:

Candidates are expected to have researched whether they have the right to live and work in the UK.

Qualifications (Essential):  Qualified Lawyer (Barrister or Solicitor) in England & Wales 

Knowledge & Experience & Skills (Essential):

  • International corporate and commercial legal experience
  • Experience of leading a legal function providing advice to an organisation of similar scale and complexity.
  • Deep knowledge of:
  •         Partnerships, mergers and joint ventures
  •         Corporate law and governance
  •         Legal status (UK and overseas)
  •         Dispute resolution 
  •         Contracts
  •         Conflict of laws/cross border issues

Knowledge & Experience & Skills (Desirable but not Essential):

  • Public sector/NDPB legal experience
  • Charity legal experience
  • Professional services organisation experience
  • Charity Law
  • Employment law and /or Investigation management

British Council Behaviours (all at most demanding level) Details can be found on the British Council web site or provided by Oakleigh Resourcing:

Creating Shared Purpose

Connecting with Others

Working Together

Being Accountable

Making it Happen

Shaping The Future

For any additional information please call Elaine Rippon on 01477 534491.  To apply please forward your CV with details of your current remuneration package and availability to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.