Social Work England – Head of Legal (Senior Lawyer – Regulation)

The Role

Social Work England are the specialist regulator for social work in England, focused on enabling positive change in social work. Every day, social workers support millions of people to improve their chances in life. We are taking a new approach to regulating social workers in their vital roles. We believe in the power of collaboration and share a common goal with those we regulate – to protect the public, enable positive change and ultimately improve people’s lives. 

The role and purpose of the legal team is to deliver legal services and legal advice across the organisation in relation to our statutory functions and over-arching objective of public protection. The legal team ensures that we act within its legal powers (the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and the Social Workers Regulations 2018). It also provides legal advice on the interpretation/application of our rules, standards, guidance and policies to ensure they are legally compliant and adhered to.

This is a fixed terms contract or secondment to March 2025. Secondments will be subject to the agreement of the candidate’s employer.

Candidates must be a registered solicitor, barrister or Cilex Fellow with current litigation rights in the civil and family courts.

Purpose of the role

As one of the Heads of the Legal team and as Senior Lawyers, you will be jointly responsible for leading, line-managing and developing the team, influencing and ensuring delivery of Social Work England’s strategic business objectives, and facilitating the provision of high quality internal and external legal advice across the organisation.  You will provide legal and strategic input into our project, policy and strategy work, to ensure that we comply with the law, protect the organisation, and seek any legislative amendments we need.  You will work closely with the Executive Leadership Team, Assistant Directors,  other Heads of functions, the Board, the Department for Education sponsor team and external legal providers to manage legal risk and drive a culture of legal awareness and compliance.

What you will do

  • Lead and set the strategic direction for the legal team, including managing the legal budget, planning the allocation of work and resources, supporting and performance managing members of the team, and ensuring they are suitably trained and facilitated to undertake relevant CPD activities.  Be a visible and accessible head of legal, participating in the decision review group and other project groups and working groups as necessary.
  • Provide specialist legal and regulatory insight into the setting of our strategic aims and the legal feasibility of new projects, including advising on how to devise and implement them in a legally compliant way.
  • Support the Executive Leadership Team and senior leaders by providing or procuring timely, accurate and high-quality privileged legal, regulatory and strategic advice in respect of all areas of law, including our regulatory remit and statutory framework as well as public law, European law and family law.
  • Lead and provide strategic advice on projects to reform our regulation of social workers and associated workforces, including representing Social Work England in meetings with the Department for Education, other Government bodies and other key external stakeholders.
  • Provide specialist legal and regulatory advice on where amendments to our statutory framework are necessary and lead on the implementation of these changes.
  • Provide strategic advice to Executive and Assistant Directors on all forms of regulatory litigation (including High Court appeals and judicial reviews, represent Social Work England in meetings, act as our key point of contact for external lawyers.
  • Liaise with key stakeholders in our work, including the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, PSA and other regulators on matters of law and regulation and deputise for Executives Directors, if required.
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the business and build strong, collaborative relationships with senior leaders and Executive Directors across the organisation in order to advocate for, develop, and help embed appropriate and legally compliant policies, processes and frameworks.Ensure that the decisions we take are legally robust by identifying risks early and work with other teams, ELT, the Board and Sponsor team to ensure that these are managed appropriately, including giving advice on high risk, high profile and strategic matters, report as appropriate.
  • Commission advice and manage relationships and contracts with external legal firms and Counsel on a wide range of legal issues, including defending legal actions against our regulatory decisions, judicial reviews and other legal challenges and ensuring the organisation takes  a strategic, expertly-informed approach to managing legal risks.
  • Undertake reserved legal activities such as direct instruction of Counsel and giving solicitors’ undertakings.
  • Keep up to date with relevant legal, policy, sectoral and strategy developments and your own continuing professional development.
  • Oversee and advise on the drafting of policy, operational guidance for decision makers,, developing internal training content on legal compliance (as required).

Your skills, knowledge and experience

  • Significant experience as a qualified Solicitor, Barrister or Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
  • Substantial experience advising in relation to at least one (essential) or two (desirable) of the following areas of law: regulation (preferable) or criminal enforcement or prosecution matters.
  • Excellent legal analytical and problem-solving skills and the ability to work in a politically sensitive environment, dealing with high profile sensitive issues.
  • Excellent written communication skills, with the ability to draft clear, concise and comprehensive correspondence for a range of stakeholders.
  • Excellent strategic thinking and collaboration skills to develop our organisational objectives with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Excellent organisation and time management skills and the ability to manage different tasks calmly and flexibly while maintaining a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills, with the ability to work with others and lead and respond positively, creatively and supportively to a variety of colleagues.
  • A track record of respectful, open and honest behaviour including a demonstrable commitment to inclusion and diversity. 


  • Job type: This is a fixed term contract or secondment to March. Secondments will be subject to the agreement of the candidate’s employer.
  • Candidates must be a registered solicitor, barrister or Cilex Fellow with current litigation rights in the civil and family courts. Please contact to discuss further.
  • Working pattern: We offer flexible working subject to business need.
  • Salary:£58,625 per year, rising to £60,838 per year after successful completion of a 6-month probationary period.
  • Benefits: flexible working, contributory pension, life insurance and benefits portal.
  • Interview date: 12/13 June 2024


During the application process, you’ll be asked to provide answers to three questions from the job description. These answers will be what your application is scored on, please answer in as much detail as possible using examples where necessary.

For more information and to apply please visit

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