The Church of England
Deputy Legal Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod
The Legal Office provides legal services to the National Church Institutions (‘the NCIs’), of which the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board are the largest. It currently comprises 6 solicitors, 3 barristers, 1 paralegal and 2 support staff.
The Legal Office is one of a number of ‘common service’ units that provide services to all the NCIs and are managed by Church of England Central Services. (Other common services include IT, Human Resources, Office Services and the Church of England Records Centre.) The Head of the Legal Office is both Official Solicitor to the Church Commissioners and Chief Legal Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod.
The Advisory Team of the Legal Office is responsible for:
- providing legal advice to the National Church Institutions and their respective Committees (including advice on proposed Government legislation and on major litigation)
- the legislative functions of the General Synod and providing legal and procedural advice to its Commissions and Committees
- the conduct of the national function in relation to clergy discipline.
The Property Team of the Legal Office is responsible for some transactional property matters and some other legal work relating to the Commissioners’ property.
The post of Deputy Legal Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod is a senior role in the National Institutions of the Church of England, immediately below Director level, and requires the provision of legal services with an exceptionally high level of independent, professional and personal responsibility.
You will be responsible for managing up to 3 members of staff in the Legal Office and accountable to the Head of the Legal Office.
The post is based in Westminster but you may be required to travel to any part of the country for work purposes when necessary, including for 6 days in York each year at the July group of sessions of the General Synod.
Interviews will be held in early December.
In return we offer a unique environment with opportunities for continuous learning, generous annual leave for work life balance, season ticket loans and a range of benefits including discounted entry to attractions and what we feel is a market leading package when it comes to our pension scheme. Further information about our non-contributory pension scheme can be found at https://www.churchofengland.org/pensions.
The role involves sharing responsibility for overseeing the work of the Legal Office and deputising for the Head of the Legal Office. That includes–
- ensuring the timely, effective and efficient delivery of legal services, at an advanced level, to the National Institutions of the Church of England in accordance with the Legal Office Service Level Agreement
- personal responsibility for the delivery of such services to the Archbishops’ Council, the General Synod and the House of Bishops (and their respective committees)
The job requires the provision of legal advice and analysis at the highest level, including in relation to matters which, internally, have strategic significance for the Church of England and/or affect its internal dynamics and, externally, affect the way in which the Church is perceived. By virtue of its influence on the Church’s central decision-making processes, the legal advice given by the post holder has a significant impact in relation to all these areas. Because such advice that is in any way inadequate or misjudged can have a seriously adverse impact it is essential that the advice provided by the post holder is entirely reliable and always well-judged and accurate.
The legal advice given by the post holder is often given within a context that has significant implications for the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England and the post holder is required to advise in a way that takes proper account of that doctrine and teaching and is consistent with it.
Furthermore, the environment in which the job is carried out is a demanding one. Factors contributing to that include:
- the complexity of the surrounding framework of ecclesiastical, public and administrative law, charity law and of the legislative and other Synodical processes,
- the need for the legal advice provided to take account of the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England
- the potential for legislative proposals from Government to impact on the Church in highly sensitive areas and
- the need to respond rapidly, under pressure, to situations that unexpectedly arise.
The job involves producing imaginative and effective solutions to complex and novel legal problems in order to ensure the organisation’s strategic outcomes are achieved.
The job therefore requires the ability to provide rigorous, legally correct, well-communicated and well-judged legal advice and analysis, sometimes in highly contested or sensitive circumstances, on a wide range of matters, in such a way as to command respect from senior office holders within the Church and external parties including Government Ministers and senior civil servants.
The post holder is required to exercise personal responsibility for the following functions:
- a leading role in the formulation of the policy of the Archbishops’ Council, and of its legal strategy and procedures.
- a leading role in the effective performance of the Legal Office, including–
- ensuring a high quality of service and that service level agreements are met in the areas for which the post-holder has responsibility
- coaching junior staff in specific areas of legal expertise
- supporting the Head of the Legal Office in developing policy and strategy for the Legal Office as a whole, including management and staffing issues
- advising the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, their chiefs of staff and the Secretary-General (CEO) of the Archbishops’ Council on controversial and politically sensitive issues
- representing the National Church Institutions in meetings and negotiations with Government ministers and senior civil servants
- acting in a public representative capacity for the Church of England before Parliamentary committees and other public forums
- giving legal advice on legislative proposals and instructing legislative counsel to draft legislation
- taking legislation through the General Synod and both Houses of Parliament (including providing briefing and advice to the Second Church Estates Commissioner and the Lords Spiritual, and appearing before the Ecclesiastical Committee)
- acting as Deputy Registrar of the Provinces of Canterbury and York and as Deputy Registrar of the General Synod
- advising the Chairs of the General Synod, the Houses of General Synod (especially the House of Bishops) and the Synods’ commissions and committees
- advising the Clerk to the Synod and other staff on legal and procedural issues arising out of their work
- advising the Archbishops’ Council, its committees, Secretary General and other staff on legal and procedural issues arising out of their work
- providing legal advice to House of Lords bishops in relation to parliamentary business and supporting them in the House of Lords as required
- advising the other NCIs and their respective committees and staff as required on legal and procedural issues arising out of their work
- collaborating with senior colleagues in other divisions of the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the other NCIs in developing policy
- monitoring and advising on the impact of Government legislation on the NCIs and the Church of England generally
- deputising for, and assisting, the Head of the Legal Office
- promoting the effective delivery of legal services throughout the Church of England generally, including by:
- responding informally to requests from persons and bodies outside the NCIs; and
- supporting the work of the Legal Advisory Commission, of the provincial and diocesan registrars and of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, the Ecclesiastical Law Association and the Ecclesiastical Judges Association.
- Carrying out other duties as required.
- a solicitor or barrister qualified to practice in England and Wales with significant relevant post-qualification experience
- strong powers of legal analysis and proven experience of providing effective legal advice on complex and novel issues without supervision and with the capability to quality assure own work
- ability to deal with highly complex, sensitive and controversial matters directly involving the most senior figures in the organisation and other key internal and external stakeholders
- creativity and innovation necessary to overcome complex and demanding challenges and to provide creative solutions
- ability to acquire an understanding of legal principles in new areas of practice quickly and proactively
- ability to apply the law accurately yet imaginatively, taking account of the context
- ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing, including by being able to:
- present complex legal concepts and arguments clearly to non-lawyers
- write clearly, even when presenting complex ideas
- ability to deal with complex issues without losing sight of the wider context
- ability to assess the wider implications of the analysis/advice provided
- capacity to work under pressure and meet deadlines and work flexibly to meet rapidly changing demands
- ability to work confidently with senior and experienced lawyers and other senior staff and members, both internally and externally
- ability to build effective relationships with senior stakeholders and establish credibility in areas of technical expertise
- capability to absorb and manage detail
- good word processing skills and computer skills.
- significant post-qualification experience including substantial experience of personally and without supervision–
- advising on complex legal issues
- drafting complex legal documents
- knowledge of one or more of the following:
- public and administrative law
- ecclesiastical law
- charity law
- experience of utilising a focussed approach and delivering results
- high level client/stakeholder liaison
- caseload management
- advanced knowledge of legal research methodology.
- willingness to work sympathetically within a Church context
- ability to deal sensitively yet objectively with people from a range of backgrounds and theological positions
- respect for the views of others, including willingness to work constructively as a member of a team
- ability to inspire confidence
- ability and willingness to work proactively and without unnecessary formality
- willingness to keep up to date in all relevant areas of law
- willingness to use IT systems
- a commitment to personal, staff and organisational development
- a strong commitment to high standards of service delivery and excellent customer care
- a high level of personal integrity and a commitment to upholding professional standards.
- Because of the senior public representational role the post holder has on behalf of the Church, the fact that the legal advice provided by the post holder must take account of and be consistent with the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England, and because the post holder acts as Deputy Provincial Registrar, the post is subject to an occupational requirement under Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 that the post holder is a communicant member of the Church of England or of a Church in communion with it.
- advanced IT skills
- awareness of the structures, dynamics and culture of the Church of England, including of the range of religious beliefs held within it and/or
- knowledge of the Parliamentary legislative process
- experience of dealing with Government
- willingness to develop additional legal and personal skills
We in the National Church Institutions support the mission and ministries of the Church all over England. We work with parishes, dioceses (regional offices), schools, other ministries and our partners at a national and international level.
Excellence, Respect, Integrity
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As we are a member of the Armed Forces Covenant, we welcome all applications from those you have served in our Armed Forces and their families
We are committed to building a culturally diverse workforce. As part of this commitment, we welcome applications from people, regardless of their background. As a Disability Confident committed employer, it is important to note that there may be occasions where it is not practical or appropriate to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria* due to high volume. We limit the amount of interviews conducted to five applicants per open post we advertise.
*Where applicable depending on post requirements.
Permanent position based in Westminster, London