General Counsel

May 23, 2024

Job Description

An outstanding opportunity for an experienced qualified solicitor to join Heriot-Watt University as our new General Counsel. Please find full brochure here .

Reporting to the University Secretary, this new role of General Counsel at Heriot-Watt will provide legal support across the full range of the University’s activities globally, including its subsidiary companies. These include Heriot-Watt University Malaysia; Oriam, the National Performance Centre for Sport; and Heriot-Watt Trading. In addition, the Dubai Campus is a ‘branch entity’ of Heriot-Watt.

This is a key appointment for the University, providing legal support, advice and challenge to the University Executive members and the Court and its committees as required. The post is required to help the University drive performance and effectiveness through its contractual arrangements securing value for money and positive outcomes. The General Counsel will work closely with the Director of Governance and Legal Services within the University Secretary’s office, drawing on their professional support and engaging widely across the University to provide legal advice, including but not limited to contracts (commercial, research, educational and partnerships) intellectual property, employment issues and procurement.

This role provides an exciting opportunity to make a difference. Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and leading-edge, relevant research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for innovation, business, and industry. The University’s mission to create and exchange knowledge that benefits society, combined with its global presence and partnerships with business and industry, mean that the Heriot-Watt Group has a diverse and interesting portfolio, and the Executive is keen to secure the benefits of experienced, commercial legal acumen and governance expertise through this appointment.

The postholder will embrace the Heriot-Watt University values and will look to develop key relationships across the University, adding value and benefits across the academic and professional community that makes up the University. Candidates will need to demonstrate their interest and aptitude to enjoy the culture and context of our diverse University and be able to influence and provide leadership, bringing both challenge and solutions.

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business, and languages. Heriot-Watt is also Scotland’s most international university, with a large and diverse community of students and staff. The post is based in Edinburgh and is an on-campus role.

Key Responsibilities

  • Lead on the provision of timely and effective legal advice, working in particular with the University Executive members to ensure that we optimize the commercial value add from contracts delivering value for money and compliance with university or other requirements.
  • Attend meetings of the Executive, Court and its Committees as required, providing information
    and advice.
  • Advise on the legal implications and risks on
    major strategic projects and provide solutions and options to mitigate risks, securing protections for the University.
  • Build relationships across the University and a comprehensive understanding of the University’s mission, strategy, constitutional frameworks, and legal/governance contexts globally in order to engage effectively with a wide range of individuals in relation to academic, enterprise, research, people, and student matters, as well as equality, regulatory, governance, constitutional and corporate issues.
  • Procure, manage and review regularly the external legal services secured for the University, ensuring that the internal legal services are optimized and seeking value for money and an appropriate range of external legal support as required to meet the University’s needs.
  • Lead and manage the processes in support of the drafting, negotiating, and scrutinizing the terms and conditions of commercial, student and academic contracts and project and staff related contracts. Examples of some contracts include, but are not limited to, Student Terms and Conditions and related Policies; commercial and academic collaborations (national and international); research agreements; student sponsored projects; donation/ scholarship agreements; IP assignments; and licenses; spin out divestment; non-disclosure/confidentiality agreements; partnership and franchise agreements both commercial and
    with other educational/public bodies; Staff employment contracts.
  • Lead on legal implications and risks which arise from complaints or claims, ensuring risk mitigation and management.
  • Working with the University Secretary, manage the overall legal costs incurred, with a focus on value for money, working closely with Procurement.
  • Work closely with the Director of Governance and Legal Services and team, also within the University Secretary’s office, and engage with other professional service directors as required, particularly the Global Director of HR, Director of Estates and Facilities, Director of Finance (who manages the Procurement Function) and others.
  • Provide leadership in raising awareness of legal, regulatory and risk issues, and helping in the provision of training or briefings as required to create stronger awareness and capability in
    the organization.
  • Manage and keep under review Heriot-Watt University Intellectual Property Policy ensuring it is up to date and in line with Heriot-Watt University operations and strategy.
  • Lead on the provision of advice on the protection of Heriot-Watt University brand and manage Heriot-Watt University trademark portfolio.
  • Manage and oversee the maintenance of Heriot-Watt University contracts database.
  • Horizon scan all changes in the law and court or tribunal decisions that may impact Heriot-Watt University and ensure that senior management and the University Executive are briefed in advance on any changes that will impact any Heriot-Watt University operations and strategy and advise on
    all options for response.
  • To make full use of all information and communication technologies in adherence to data protection policies to meet the requirements of the role and to promote organisational effectiveness.
  • To conduct all financial matters associated with the role in accordance with Heriot-Watt University policies and procedures, as laid down in the Financial Regulations.

Person Specification

As an experienced solicitor you will be comfortable navigating a complex global organisation under a matrix reporting structure, dealing with multiple stakeholders. Your experiences to date will showcase a clear and persuasive style of communication whilst explaining complex matters simply and tailoring to suit the audience needs and understanding. An understanding and interest in the Higher Education sector and the societal needs and values the sector can provide will help you settle into this role. Your post qualification experience (PQE) should also provide evidence of setting high standards to achieve organisational objectives, continually monitoring levels/standards of service, and identifying areas for improvement.

Essential Criteria

  1. A qualified Solicitor in Scotland or Dual qualified (in the region of 15 years PQE).
  2. Recognised as an authority in their field or specialism within their institution or amongst external peers based demonstrated expertise.
  3. Experience of working effectively with senior management and using sound judgement in the provision of expert and strategic legal advice.
  4. Experience in legal research, writing, analysis, and reasoning.
  5. Ability to shape and influence developments across the University through own contribution to area of expertise.
  6. Experience of supervising the legal work of other solicitors, paralegals, and outside counsel; consulting on difficult or sensitive issues.
  7. Ability to carry out investigations into complex or sensitive issues, producing reports that identify key issues and findings.
  8. Ability to present compelling arguments to influence and negotiate satisfactory outcomes.
  9. Ability to keep abreast of external factors that may impact the service and takes opportunities to maximise any opportunities.
  10. Ability to plan and generate training and development opportunities to meet team members’ current and future learning needs, evaluating outcomes and putting learning into practice.
  11. Experience in leading a network to pursue a shared interest, developing approaches and ideas to benefit own and others’ work, actively promoting the work and image of own team and/or the University, internally and or externally.

Desirable Criteria

  1. A good understanding of and/or previous experience of working within the Higher Education Sector.
  2. Experience of managing a team; encouraging contribution and involvement from staff at all levels, undertaking effective staff appraisals, evaluating performance, learning and development activities.

How to apply

This post is based in Edinburgh and is an on-campus role. If the position is of interest please submit a covering letter and CV by closing date of 24th of May.

Interviews are anticipated w/c 17th June.

Salary for this post will be based on experience and suitability up to maximum £100K.
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