Office for Students – Principal Legal Adviser for Information, Governance and Know-How

£75,712 + £10,000 allowance (and London allowance of £3,566 where appropriate)

Generous Civil Service defined benefit pension

London or Bristol

The Office for Students (OfS) was established by the Higher Education and Research Act in 2017 and became fully operational in April 2018.

OfS’s primary aim is to ensure that English higher education is delivering positive outcomes for students – past, present, and future. Our objectives are to ensure that students, from all backgrounds (particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are :

  • Supported to access, succeed in, and progress from, higher education
  • Receive high quality academic experience and their interests are protected while they study or in the event of provider, campus or course closure
  • Are able to progress into employment or further study, and their qualifications hold their value over time
  • Receive value for money

The Resources & Finance Directorate provides critical services to the OfS to enable the organisation to deliver its strategy. The Directorate ensures that the OfS complies with statutory and other public sector requirements, identifies and manages risks and opportunities and co-ordinates efforts across the organisation to be efficient and effective

The aim of the role ‘Principal Legal Adviser for Information, Governance and Know-How’ is to lead on provision of legal advice and support for a broad range of legal matters. While they could lead and advise across any legal issue relevant to the OfS, key responsibilities include:

  • Leading on information law matters (from both a policy and legal perspective), including Freedom of Information and data protection
  • Assisting the Deputy Head of Legal Services in managing and supervising the work of the OfS’s Knowledge and Information Management team
  • Leading or assisting on the provision of legal advice on matters relating to delegated authority, including the OfS scheme of delegation and separate delegation arrangements
  • Assisting the Head of Legal Services with drafting amendments to the OfS scheme of delegation and drafting separate delegation arrangements
  • Assisting the Head of Legal Services with monitoring internal compliance with delegation arrangements
  • Learning and managing the provision of professional support services to the legal team, including updates on case law and training on new areas of law.

This role will also require significant engagement with internal stakeholders to ensure that all employees are appropriately trained, and external stakeholders to ensure the team is supported.

The key person attributes required to fulfil this role include: significant legal experience dealing with many legal practice areas and delivering at pace, acting as an advisor to boards and senior executives; ability to analyse and advise on complex legal issues; sensitivity to politics, understanding the needs of, and willing to work collaboratively with external stakeholders; adopts a creative and innovative approach to legal issues; excellent verbal, written communication and presentation skills; and an ability to influence and negotiate.

Key responsibilities:

Act as a senior lawyer within the OfS on a wide range of legal matters running in parallel.

Leads on providing advice to policy colleagues and professional know-how support to the legal team on the following legal areas and topics:

  • Legal issues relating to knowledge and information management, including data protection and freedom of information law;
  • Legal topics relevant to decision making and supporting processes, such as public law principles, statutory duties and considerations, the delegation of functions and equalities legislation;
  • Legislation applying to the higher education sector including the Higher Education and Research Act 2017;
  • The conduct of litigation activities (which could include judicial review or statutory appeals including before the ICO);
  • The use of the OfS’s enforcement and information gathering powers;
  • The regulatory framework and registration conditions that apply to higher education providers;
  • Consumer protection law;
  • Human rights law.

Supporting the Head of Legal Services and Deputy Head of Legal Services in operating the legal function within the OfS.

  • Leads on the production of internal guidance documents on key legal and regulatory issues to a high standard
  • Training for the legal team is organised in line with professional CPD requirements
  • Leads with the delivery of training to colleagues within the OfS to establish and maintain a culture of working closely and effectively with the legal team, as well as developing their knowledge on key legal/regulatory issues
  • Leads on the management of case management systems to track the timeliness of legal support and identify trends in the topics raised with the legal team Contracts are negotiated and relationships with providers of legal research tools are managed, such as Lexis/Nexis;
  • Leads on commissioning external legal support (including Counsel) and managing their delivery of tasks;
  • Leads on the procurement of panels of external legal providers
  • Fees are negotiated with external legal and other support service providers and Barristers’ clerks in order to ensure value for money

External and internal stakeholder management

  • Leads on engagement with internal and external stakeholders, in particular working closely with the Head of Legal Services and Deputy Head of Legal Services to maintain oversight of due delegation arrangements, and knowledge and information governance matters.
  • Working closely with the Head of Legal Services and Deputy Head of Legal Services, maintains oversight of the relationship, budget, and performance of a legal panel of external legal providers
  • An understanding of senior leadership team objectives, concerns and aspirations is developed

Knowledge development

  • An expert knowledge and understanding of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 is developed
  • A thorough knowledge and understanding of the work and operations of the OfS is established

Delivering and working in a team

  • In the areas for which the post holder is responsible, the outcomes and objectives in the OfS’s business plan are delivered efficiently and effectively
  • The following are delivered: the OfS’s behaviours and values; flexible, agile and collaborative working, including with staff and teams in other directorates

Key skills:

Expert level knowledge of the following key skills:

Significant legal experience dealing with many legal practice areas, acting as an advisor to senior executives and providing professional know-how support, including as to:

  • Public law matters
  • Data protection and freedom of information law
  • The interpretation of regulatory rules such as licence conditions or equivalent
  • The interpretation and application of sector specific legislation which relates to a regulatory body
  • UK consumer protection law
  • Investigation and enforcement in a regulatory context

Sensitivity to politics, understanding the needs of, and willingness to work collaboratively with external stakeholders Ability to adopt a creative and innovative approach to legal issues Excellent verbal, written communication and presentation skills Ability to influence and negotiate.

For full details to apply please visit https://ofs.wd3.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/External_Career_Site/details/Principal-Legal-Adviser-for-Information–Governance-and-Know-How_R0000785

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