Employment Opportunity: Legal Officer- Pretrial Justice

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.

We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check. We help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.

We implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. We build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.

Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

The Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies. We foster accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, address abuses related to national security and counterterrorism, expand freedom of information and expression, and stem corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Our staff are based in Abuja, Amsterdam, Bishkek, Brussels, Budapest, Freetown, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Phnom Penh, Santo Domingo and Washington, D.C.

Based in the New York office, the Legal Officer for Pretrial Justice, National Criminal Justice Reform (NCJR), will engage in litigation, oversee the development of pilot projects, direct research and supervise consultants and staff as part of the Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice. The Global Campaign seeks to promote rights-based pretrial detention and legal aid reform as an issue of priority on the agendas of relevant governments, private and state donors, and inter-governmental organizations. The Global Campaign aspires to create sustainable mechanisms of funding and project implementation on these two important inter-related issues. The objective is to foster greater investment and attention to the problem of excessive pretrial detention and the challenge of providing adequate legal representation to the indigent by creating a more active “market” for ideas, research and programing in these two areas.

The Legal Officer reports to the Senior Legal Officer who is responsible for overseeing the development of programming in the area of national criminal justice reform around the world.

Purpose of Position

Develop, implement and manage projects of relevance to national criminal justice reform in cooperation with the Open Society Foundations’ network entities and partner NGOs. Work is carried out independently.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

Essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following.  OSF may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.

Program Management

  • Design, manage, evaluate and oversee implementation of projects related to national criminal justice reform in cooperation with OSF’s National Foundations, partner NGOs, local governmental partners and/or inter-governmental partners;
  • Contribute in the planning of strategic goals related to national criminal justice reform ;
  • Manage consultants, grantees, pro bono counsel, partners and external legal officers to ensure compliance with OSF’s guidelines and coherence/coordination of efforts;

Project Design and Implementation

  • Identify programmatic opportunities and assess needs by researching human rights, civil society and/or political context in current projects;
  • Oversee project implementation to ensure advocacy and litigation are in accordance with OSF’s policies and goals;


  • Identify suitable cases for strategic litigation;
  • Conduct legal and factual research into complex issues of human rights law and procedures;
  • Draft legal applications and other required legal documents;
  • Litigate specific cases as assigned;
  • Liaise with external counsel, law clinics, pro bono lawyers and other partners in the litigation;
  • Design and implement advocacy plans to support the cases;
  • Support representation of individual or NGO complainants in regional or international courts;


  • Prepare and monitor budgets and expenditures on projects and report to management on progress and variances;
  • Provide monthly and ad hoc reports on activities;
  • Attend program meetings and participate on monthly calls;


  • Travel is required;
  • Perform other duties as assigned.
Education / Experience

Law Degree and minimum eight years of relevant experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

  • Extensive professional experience in the fields of human rights,  and criminal justice reform;
  • Familiarity with international and regional human rights tribunals and jurisprudence.
Skills Required
  • Demonstrated project management skills particularly in complex organizations;
  • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office;
  • Leadership expertise in identifying best practices;
  • Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects;
  • Ability to prioritize between competing tasks;
  • Experience in managing multiple priorities under pressure and accomplish short- and long- term deadlines with a heavy workload;
  • Demonstrated experience in budget, technical and financial management functions;
  • Outstanding writing skills;
  • Outstanding verbal communication skills;
  • Proven ability to build and maintain relationships with a wide array of people with diverse backgrounds throughout a complex organization;
  • Proven leadership qualities with delivering superior results;
  • Professionally competent to make administrative, procedural decisions and judgments on sensitive and confidential issues;
  • Identify and resolve sensitive matters and situations;
  • Professional, diplomatic demeanor with the ability to represent a global organization and interact with colleagues from diverse backgrounds;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and demonstrated expertise in handling all personnel related issues and information in a confidential manner.
Program Specific Requirements
  • Experience with developing and promoting criminal justice reform programs, preferably at the international level;
  • Experience working with international donor organizations, bi-lateral organizations, and/or governments preferred;
  • Ability to communicate at a proficient level in Spanish or French;

Experience working at the intersection of health and law desirable but not required.

Work Environment and Physical Demands

Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package.
Application Instructions

Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements  Include job code in subject line: LO-OSJI.

August 23, 2012 | Namati