Legal Counselor

Relief International, Washington, United States
Relief International logo
Job Summary

Job Description

About RI

Relief International is a leading nonprofit organization working in 18 countries to relieve poverty, ensure well-being and advance dignity. We specialize in fragile settings, responding to natural disasters, humanitarian crises and chronic poverty.

Relief International combines humanitarian and development approaches to provide immediate services while laying the groundwork for long-term impact. Our signature approach — which we call the RI Way—emphasizes local participation, an integration of services, strategic partnerships and a focus on civic skills. In this way, we empower communities to find, design and implement the solutions that work best for them.

Relief International includes the four corporate members of the RI Alliance: RI-US, RI-UK, MRCA/RI-France and RI-Europe. Under our alliance agreement, we operate as a single, shared management structure. In addition, RI has country offices registered as affiliates of one of the alliance members in an additional 18 countries.

Position in Brief

The Legal Counsel is responsible for undertaking and/or overseeing the legal work for the member organizations of the Relief International Alliance: s/he is accountable for all aspects of RI’s legal affairs and ensure the appropriate protection of its legal rights. The Legal counsel stays abreast of activities across all departments of the organization and evaluates this information to understand and anticipate potential legal effects on RI, and to provide the best overall advice to RI’s governing bodies, senior management team and other staff. This covers legal, regulatory and compliance policies and processes across RI.

Corporate responsibilities

  • Provide support for governance, Board matters, Alliance matters and corporate secretary functions.
  • Participate in the definition and development of corporate policies, procedures and programs, and provide continuing counsel on legal implications.
  • Select, manage and evaluate outside counsel (including local counsel in program countries and specialized services) and arrange pro bono services as needed.
  • Oversee local registrations and powers of attorney in program countries.
  • Protect RI’s Intellectual Property
  • Provide support for issues regarding US tax exemption, non-profit rules, UK VAT exemption, Charity Commission regulations, EU eligibility, French tax exemption, local employment law, etc.
  • Ensure RI has policies and practices in place to be compliant with legal requirements, including GDPR, safeguarding (trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, child protection), financial crimes (terrorist financing, money-laundering, corruption, fraud), environmental sustainability, diversity & inclusion, etc.
  • Research and advise, with input from outside counsel if needed, on legal issues relating to RI’s global program operations, including matters relating to fraud, terrorism financing, bribery and corruption, money laundering, sanctions, data protection, and whistleblowing.
  • Protect RI from legal action and manage complex contractual issues, lawsuits and arbitration proceedings, and disputes with donors or sub-recipients, as needed.
  • Work with management and the Board to promote a culture of high ethical standards and compliance across the organization.

Operational responsibilities

  • Provide MOU’s, implementation agreement templates and specialized support for partnerships.
  • Provide legal templates/updates to procurement, grants and contracts, and support on complex issues or new terms.
  • Provide insights to the senior management team on legal risks, organizational issues and strategy.
  • Respond to external auditors regarding contingent liabilities.
  • Provide support as needed on fund-raising and unique/custom donation agreements for individuals and corporations.
  • Conduct and/or oversee investigations of potential breaches of law, regulations or RI policies in coordination, as appropriate, with other SMT members and/or outside counsel.
  • Advise on lobbying restrictions.


This position demands a dynamic individual with a demonstrated ability to achieve results in a demanding and fast paced environment.

Legal Technical requirements:

  • Juris Doctor Degree (or the equivalent first-level legal degree awarded by a law school accredited by the national authority responsible for accreditation)
  • Must be qualified to practice law or be admitted to practice law by a recognized national or state bar or law society
  • 5+ years of legal professional experience working in business contracts, tax-exempt entities and/or corporate law
  • INGOs experience, as staff, outside counsel or advisor
  • Solid background and knowledge of bi-lateral and multi-lateral international development sector donor rules and regulations
  • Substantial experience in legal negotiations
  • Experience working with foreign legal counsel, as well as offices of Inspectors General (US, UK, EU or France)
  • Ability to identify legal issues and summarize them clearly and concisely in a manner understandable by non-lawyers
  • Ability to interpret and apply legislative instruments and draft legal documents

General Professional requirements:

  • Excellent verbal and written English communications and negotiations skills.
  • Excellent analytical abilities and legal research skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage multiple priorities, deadlines, tasks efficiently
  • Excellent analytical and organizational skills
  • High standards of ethics and values
  • Must be able to travel when needed, including sometimes to fragile environments
  • Must be authorized to work in a country of RI corporate registration (US, UK or France).