Legal Adviser and Director, Office of Legal Affairs

Brussels, Belgium
Industry Sector:
International Public Sector
Type of contract:

Legal Adviser and Director, Office of Legal Affairs

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Legal Adviser and Director, Office of Legal Affairs

Ref: 190828



The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) is an Independent Office within the International Staff (IS). It is responsible for the provision of advice to the Secretary General, the IS and, as appropriate, other NATO bodies on all issues which have legal implications, particularly with regard to international and national laws and regulations which affect the responsibilities, functions, operations and activities of NATO. The Office also provides advice directly to the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and Council subordinate Committees.

The Legal Adviser / Director, Office of Legal Affairs leads and directs OLA and the OLA staff in developing and providing legal advice and support; drafting, preparing and reviewing texts with legal implications; defending the Organization in litigation; and, when required,  representing the Organization in academic and other public fora.

Key challenges facing the successful candidate for the Legal Adviser post will include requirements to:

  1. offer timely and substantive advice to the Secretary General, the IS and, as appropriate, the NAC on fast-moving, often politically sensitive, issues as well as on policy matters in development;
  2. negotiate and oversee, on behalf of the Alliance, the drafting of bilateral agreements, including with partner countries and international organisations (e.g. status of forces agreements for operations);
  3. exercise policy leadership within the broader NATO legal community (e.g. with respect to NATO juridical immunities).



The incumbent must:

  • have a university degree in law;
  • have at least fifteen years’ legal experience in government or international/ intergovernmental organisations, with a substantial focus on public international law;
  • have experience in policy development in international affairs;
  • have knowledge of jurisprudence and legal texts governing international organisations;
  • be generally familiar with the structures and operations of NATO and the consultation and decision-making procedures in the HQ; where appropriate, be able to demonstrate transferable and usable knowledge from other organisations;
  • be familiar with salient Alliance issues and priorities;
  • have experience managing a legal office or legal functions;
  • have a proven ability to provide clear and relevant written advice, including communication of complex legal concepts to legal and non-legal readers;
  • possess the following minimum levels of NATO’s official languages (English/French): V (“Advanced”) in one; and III (“Intermediate”) in the other;
  • be prepared to work long hours and to travel as necessary.


The following would be considered an advantage:

  • an advanced degree, postgraduate studies, or equivalent level, in the field of international law;
  • a record of active participation in legal scholarship, including publications on legal issues relevant to NATO.


Vision and Direction Develop and formulate strategic goals and objectives, advancing, from a legal perspective, the objectives and priorities set by the Secretary General and Nations. Within OLA, maintain a motivating and effective workplace.

Policy Development Identify legal implications of policy decisions. Apply knowledge of international law, international affairs and other international organisations to assist the Secretary General and the IS in developing policies on NATO core political, security and military agendas.

Stakeholder Management Efficiently and effectively provide legal services to senior internal customers within the Organization. Contribute a legal perspective to relevant NATO committees and other working groups. Provide leadership on NATO-wide issues and, as possible and appropriate, render advice to the other NATO legal staff bodies. Maintain and develop contacts NATO-wide, with external legal offices and with other international organisations.

Representation of the Organization Represent NATO and the Secretary General on legal matters affecting the functioning of the Organization, as well as in legal cases engaging the Organization, before internal or external tribunals and with opposing counsel. Represent the Headquarters/Organization within the NATO and international legal communities. Engage actively in academic, professional and other legal fora considering legal issues of interest or concern to the Organization.

Expertise Development Analyse and provide advice to the Secretary General and the IS on legal matters affecting the Organization under international law. Analyse the legal implications/interpretation of internal rules and regulations and other policy documents as required. Manage and direct the defence of the Organization before internal or external tribunals. Apply knowledge and experience to support the Secretary General and the IS in the legal aspects related to their tasks and functions.

Knowledge Management Ensure NATO legal information as well as general legal publications and jurisprudence in the field of international law are available and accessible through appropriate systems and processes within OLA. Collaborate with other NATO legal offices via internal and external knowledge management tools to ensure the most efficient use of NATO-wide legal resources. Promote information sharing and encourage modernisation in the field of knowledge management.

Organisational Efficiencies Identify, develop and implement clear lines of cooperation and communication in order to ensure that legal concerns are addressed efficiently at the Organizational level.

People Management Lead and direct the legal staff in the preparation of legal texts, internal memoranda and other legal documents, as well as in the preparation or review of agreements, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) or other legal documents prepared by other Divisions and Independent Offices. Apply sound management principles with staff, and provide in-depth mentoring, coaching and training opportunities. Be available for guidance at critical moments. Ensure that all staff are aware of Organizational and Office objectives. Provide regular and fair feedback on performance, both informally and through the performance review and development system.

Project Management Ensure legal aspects are considered in the management of projects within the Organization. Direct project work as required on internal systems and processes pertaining to OLA.

Financial Management Align the Office’s financial budgets with objectives and supervise their execution.

Planning and Execution Align work plans with the objectives of the Office and ensure coordinated implementation, while retaining the flexibility to meet urgent requests and to adapt to changing Organizational priorities.

Perform any other related duty as assigned.


The Legal Adviser / Director, Office of Legal Affairs reports to the Secretary General through the Director of the Private Office. He/she works closely with members of the Office of the Secretary General and with senior staff of all Divisions and Independent Offices in the IS as well as throughout NATO bodies. He/she maintains an efficient network of legal contacts across other legal offices, NATO-wide and externally, including within relevant international organisations.

Direct reports: 6 Indirect reports: N/a.


The incumbent must demonstrate:

  • Achievement: Sets and works to meet challenging goals;
  • Change Leadership: Champions change;
  • Conceptual Thinking: Creates new concepts;
  • Developing Others: Provides in-depth mentoring, coaching and training;
  • Impact and Influence: Uses complex influence strategies;
  • Initiative: Plans and acts for the long-term;
  • Leadership: Communicates a compelling vision;
  • Organisational Awareness: Understands underlying issues;
  • Self-Control: Stays composed and positive even under extreme pressure.


Contract to be offered to the successful applicant (if non-seconded): Definite duration contract of three years; possibility of renewal for up to three years. Contract clause applicable: This is a senior post of specialised political nature in which turnover is required for political reasons. The successful applicant will be offered a 3-year definite duration contract, which may be renewed for a further period of up to 3 years.  The maximum period of service in this post is six years.

If the successful applicant is seconded from the national administration of one of NATO’s member States, a 3-year definite duration contract will be offered, which may be renewed for a further period of up to 3 years subject also to the agreement of the national authority concerned.

Serving staff will be offered a contract in accordance with the NATO Civilian Personnel Regulations.


Application Closing Date – 11th November 2019

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