The Church of England

Senior Advisory Lawyer (Designated Officer)


The Legal Office provides professional legal services to the National Church Institutions ('NCIs') of the Church of England, the General Synod, and some national Church bodies such as the Churches Conservation Trust.

The work of the Legal Office includes:

  • Legislative work for the General Synod, including preparing draft Measures and Canons, as well as subordinate legislation (such as Statutory Instruments), overseeing their passage through Synod and, where appropriate, Parliament;
  • Providing legal advice to the NCIs and their Boards, Councils, Committees and departments;
  • Administering the central functions of the Clergy Discipline procedure; and
  • Undertaking some specialist ecclesiastical conveyancing.

As a member of the Legal Office Advisory Team, you will be providing legal services to the National Institutions of the Church of England, in particular in relation to clergy discipline and the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.

As Senior Advisory Lawyer (Designated Officer), you will be responsible for performing the national statutory role of Designated Officer under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

Information about the statutory clergy discipline process is available at https://www.churchofengland.org/about/leadership-and-governance/legal-services/clergy-discipline.

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:

Statutory functions as Designated Officer under the Clergy Discipline Measure:

  • Investigating any complaint referred by the diocesan bishop for formal investigation, preparing a report and then referring the complaint to the President or Deputy President of Tribunals for the purpose of deciding whether there is a case to answer;
  • Where there is a case to answer, presenting the complaint as advocate before a bishop’s disciplinary tribunal or a vicar general’s court, including taking all necessary steps to prepare the case for hearing;
  • Acting as advocate on appeals from the decisions of tribunals / vicar general’s courts to the provincial courts of appeal;
  • Supporting and advising the Clergy Discipline Commission in the exercise of its statutory responsibility for the system of clergy discipline established under the CDM;
  • Developing and analysing with the Commission new policies and practices, including adapting where needed existing disciplinary processes, advising the Commission in respect of revisions to its national Code of Practice, and drafting proposed amendments to the Code for approval by the General Synod; and
  • Providing informal advice, training and support to others (e.g. bishops and their registrars) on the operation of the CDM procedures

Other advisory and legislative work:

  • Providing legal advice to the General Synod and its committees, the House of Bishops and its committees and working groups and the Archbishops’ Council and its committees and staff (including the National Safeguarding Team) on issues relating to clergy discipline and safeguarding;
  • Supporting the development and enactment of legislation relating to discipline and safeguarding (including through the development of policy and legislative proposals to give effect to such policy); instructing on the preparation of draft legislation by Legislative Counsel, being responsible for its passage through the General Synod and Parliament and for its implementation;
  • Supporting and advising the Ecclesiastical Rule Committee in the exercise of its statutory responsibility for the making of statutory rules in relation to clergy discipline and safeguarding, including by drafting rules for the Committee’s consideration and approval;
  • Acting as required as assistant Registrar of the General Synod when in session, by attending sittings of the Synod and advising the Chair as to the interpretation of Standing Orders and the practice and procedure of the Synod; and
  • Acting as Legal Adviser to the Houses of the General Synod, and their committees, as required.

The Requirements:

Essential

  • A barrister or solicitor with significant relevant experience

Skills/Aptitudes:

  • Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines, and to work flexibly to meet changing demands
  • A highly effective communicator and in particular:
    1. a skilled and confident advocate
    2. able to present legal concepts and arguments orally and in writing clearly, confidently and concisely to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
    3. able to draft documentation in clear and plain English.
    4. able to gather relevant evidence whilst maintaining impartiality, discretion and total confidentially.
  • Strong powers of legal analysis and proven experience of providing appropriate legal advice on complex, sensitive and contentious issues directly to members and other key stakeholders, and the ability to quality assure own work.
  • Ability to build effective relationships with senior stakeholders.
  • Ability to absorb and manage detail.
  • Ability to interpret and apply the law in context, constructing clear, fair and workable legal procedures.
  • Ability to acquire an understanding of legal principles in new areas of legal practice quickly and proactively.
  • Ability to deal sensitively yet objectively with people from a range of backgrounds and theological positions, sometimes in circumstances when they feel under threat
  • Sound IT skills

Knowledge/experience

  • Significant experience of case management, preparation and advocacy before the criminal or civil courts, or tribunals
  • Proven experience of advising in highly complex, sensitive and contentious matters
  • Proven experience of drafting complex legal documentation
  • Proven experience of delivering results under pressure
  • Advanced knowledge of legal principles and concepts

Personal Attributes:

  • A strong commitment to high standards of service delivery and excellent client care
  • A high level of personal integrity and professionalism
  • Ability to inspire confidence, demonstrating integrity and fairness in behaviour
  • Readiness to travel throughout England as required including the possibility of overnight stays
  • Respect for the views of others, including willingness to work constructively as a member of a team
  • Preparedness and proven ability to work individually as well as collaboratively
  • An enquiring mind and preparedness to develop new skills and abilities as the needs of the Legal Office grow and develop
  • Genuine interest in the use of IT for providing a more efficient delivery of legal services
  • Willingness to keep up to date in all relevant areas of law
  • Ability to work sympathetically in a Church context

Desirable

Knowledge/Experience:

  • Knowledge and awareness of the organisation and culture of the Church of England, including the range of churchmanship within it
  • Experience of investigative work and gathering and evaluating evidence for proceedings
  • Knowledge of ecclesiastical law and/or human rights law
  • Experience of legislative processes

Skills/Aptitudes:

  • Ability and willingness to work proactively and without unnecessary formality
  • Advanced IT skills

Personal Attributes:

  • Proven record of building a reputation for trust and impartiality
  • Preparedness 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

We follow these three values in everything we do, whether we are of Christian faith, another faith or no faith. To learn more about working for National Church Institutions and our benefits, please click here

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 role based in Westminster, London

Circa £80k

To apply - https://pathways.churchofengland.org/job/pathways/1371/senior-advisory-lawyer-designated-officer