Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters.

Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters

If you have a strong background in legal affairs, you need to apply for a legal affairs specialist (P4) at New York Headquarters.

Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters

UNICEF’s Legal Office supports the organization’s business units around the world – our clients – by delivering strategic legal solutions through collaboration. We provide legal advice that is risk-informed, timely, responsive, and pragmatic. We empower clients and build their capacity to self-help.

Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters.
Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters.

We proactively engage with clients to anticipate trends and challenges and develop systemic solutions; and we protect UNICEF by identifying legal, reputational and other risks, and helping to mitigate those risks. Our lawyers are based in several UNICEF locations, including New York Headquarters, and in several other outposts, including Geneva, Copenhagen and Brussels and may expand to new locations in Asia.

We seek to hire an experienced lawyer to join the Legal Office team in New York Headquarters and to create a Talent Group for all our other locations, including New York, Geneva, and potential new locations in Asia.

The Lead, Legal Affairs Specialist in New York will support UNICEF’s public partnerships, the international financial institutions portfolio and UNICEF’s financial transactions, as well as supporting other business units globally on a broad spectrum of legal matters ranging from commercial contracts to partnerships, hosted partnerships, disputes, programmes, and institutional matters. The Lead, Legal Affairs Specialist in New York will report to the Chief of Public Partnerships, Institutional & Commercial. 

Lawyers selected for inclusion in the Talent Group may be considered by the approval authority for other positions within the Legal Office as they become available without having to go through a separate competitive process. Being placed in the Talent Group does not guarantee automatic appointment to such posts. The decision to invite lawyers in the Talent Group to take up other positions is at the sole discretion of the Director of the Legal Office.

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Members of the UNICEF Legal Office are expected to be open-minded and resourceful, responsive, and dynamic, transparent and approachable, and clear and authoritative. The overall direction of the Legal Office is set by the Director of the Legal Office in New York.

How you will make a difference

The Lead, Legal Affairs Specialist will independently, working closely with other team members and under the supervision of the Chief:

1. Manage a large portfolio of legal projects and files, ranging across the organization including, by way of illustration:

– partnerships with governments, international financial institutions, global philanthropic organizations and foundations, civil society organizations and private sector entities

– financial transactions, including both operational financial arrangements and grant agreements, direct and indirect financing transactions, and advising on the structuring and negotiation of novel financial instruments

– commercial transactions with UNICEF’s wide variety of suppliers and contractors

– policy development and interpretation

– human resources matters (except tribunal cases)

– dispute resolution

2. Collaborate closely with teams across the organization, at the headquarters / divisional level, and at the regional and country office level, in widely varying development and humanitarian contexts.

3. Lead and advise on structuring and negotiations involving key partnership, commercial and financial arrangements, including the development and review of complex contracts and agreements, templates, legal frameworks, and other arrangements.

4. Advise on the legal interpretation of decisions, regulations, rules, procedures, and other elements of the UNICEF regulatory framework.

5. Develop and provide training and capacity building to teams across the organization; proactively share knowledge with other team members.

6. Participate actively in projects managed by the Office throughout their entire lifecycle, including design & planning, stakeholder engagement, monitoring & evaluation.

7. Take on other tasks and duties as required.

The Lead, Legal Affairs Specialist will be expected to:

  • Be alive to the bigger picture. Connect dots, identify trends, develop solutions. This involves: taking ownership and having sense of accountability over your portfolio as a whole, consciously answering the need for creativity and resourcefulness in all situations (i.e. show initiative, be proactive, create and use networks, think outside the box). 
  • Take leadership in action and be responsive with client, while keeping your supervisor posted. This involves communicating with the client regularly, maintaining high levels of responsiveness to the client, keeping your supervisor regularly informed and seeking their input and guidance appropriately, managing the expectations of the client and knowing when to escalate.

  • Take charge – be responsible and be accountable. This involves:
    • taking a risk-based approach, prioritizing and, where matters warrant your investment, taking a forward-looking strategic approach – demonstrating coherence, rigor and thought over your matters;
    • being pro-active in stakeholder management, and following up on outstanding matters and queries;  
    • being resourceful, for example, use networks to unlock matters. 

  • Exercise good judgement on emerging challenges, especially where there is a need to escalate so as to avoid or overcome an impasse and involve your supervisor in a timely manner.

The impact you can make in this position

The Lead, Legal Affairs Specialist will give recommendations and advice on a wide range of organizational activities and interests, and concern, among other things, the interaction of UNICEF with governments and other key partners as well as on strategic initiatives across UNICEF.

This support helps UNICEF to take advantage of opportunities as well as safeguard the organization from risk.  The Legal Office aims to identify and mitigate exposure to potential liability and financial loss, to safeguard the ability of the organization to be accountable to its stakeholders, and to preserve credibility as well as funding from member states and other donors, both public and private. 

To qualify as an advocate for every child in this post…

You will need to meet the minimum requirements as set out below. If you also meet other specifications that are marked as desirable below, please do indicate those in your application – failure to meet some of these “desirable” specifications does not automatically exclude you from consideration.

If you have experience that you think may be relevant for this role but that is not mentioned below, please do bring that out in your application (through your cover letter or CV). For example, if you have expertise in advising on innovative and/or structured finance transactions, or in public international law, or industry-specific expertise, please mention this as we are looking to expand the depth and breadth of the Legal Office’s expertise.

  • A minimum of a post-graduate university law degree (for example. LL. B post-graduate; LL.M.; J.D.) in a relevant field of law (e.g. international law, commercial law) is required; or, at the discretion of the Director of the Legal Office, a first-level university degree in combination with an additional two years of qualifying work experience may be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.

  • A minimum of eight (8) years’ of progressively responsible experience in the practice of law in a relevant field is required (e.g. international law; commercial law).  Experience in a law firm, in private practice or as in-house counsel, or in an international organization is highly desirable

  • Fluency in English and proficiency in one of the other official languages of the United Nations is highly desirable (Chinese, Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish). Proficiency in other languages is also desirable, including, for example, Portuguese.

  • A constructive and client-oriented approach to resolution of problems is required.
  • Excellent research, legal writing and drafting skills are required.
  • Excellent verbal communication and negotiation skills, excellent interpersonal skills with staff at all levels, and the ability to work with utmost discretion in handing sensitive and confidential matters are required.
  • Knowledge of international legal procedures and instruments is desirable.

Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s core values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Accountability and Sustainability.


UNICEF’s core competencies:

  • Demonstrates Self Awareness and Ethical Awareness (2)
  • Works Collaboratively with others (2)
  • Builds and Maintains Partnerships (2)
  • Innovates and Embraces Change (2)
  • Thinks and Acts Strategically (2)
  • Drives to achieve impactful results (2)
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity (2)

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.  

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender identity, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, and including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization. You will be very welcome.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles.

All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.  Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check


UNICEF is currently undergoing organizational changes; while unlikely, the exact location of the post may change.  If reassigned or relocated to New York, and in case post location changes, candidates may be expected to relocate to a new location again during the initial contract or assignment period.  

Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Advertised: 21 Aug 2023 Eastern Daylight Time
Deadline: 10 Sep 2023 Eastern Daylight Time

Legal Affairs Specialist (P-4) at UNICEF New York Headquarters.

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