Lawyer, Marine Habitats Ocean Programme

July 11, 2019
Brussels, Belgium
Job Type
Closing date
28th July 2019


Lawyer, Marine Habitats Ocean programme - Brussels

Job purpose
The Lawyer will be an integral member of the Marine Habitats team, working on marine conservation issues, including species protection, plastic pollution and conservation of marine habitats. Specifically this role will focus mainly on using the law to achieve meaningful protection of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protecting marine wildlife in European waters.

There will be a strong emphasis on working with partner NGOs and driving strategic legal interventions (e.g. complaints and court cases) to protect marine wildlife and habitats at national and EU levels. A major part of the work will be building legally robust arguments to prevent damaging fishing activities in MPAs in French, Portuguese and Irish waters (particularly inshore MPAs) and in the North Sea (offshore MPAs). The Lawyer will also analyse complex legal questions and policy scenarios and produce high-quality outputs, including speaking on behalf of ClientEarth to key decision makers.

Working relationships
The Marine Habitats team sits within ClientEarth’s Ocean Programme. The Lawyer will be line-managed by the Head of Programme, based in London, and will work closely with colleagues in the Fisheries and Wildlife teams across ClientEarth’s offices.

The post holder will also work with the cross-thematic Strategic Litigation team, and with a network of lawyers, campaigners and external counsel.

Key responsibilities

  • Research and evaluate the potential for using litigation and regulatory interventions to ensure compliance with the law on MPAs and protected marine species, and exchange information with other environmental organisations conducting related work; 
  • Significant involvement in the selection, development and management of ClientEarth’s MPA-related cases and other legal interventions, including evaluating risks and benefits of legal action to ClientEarth and other potential litigants; 
  • Prepare high quality written work as part of legal interventions and policy advocacy, for example drafting complaints or pleadings, including written work products tailored to communicate our thinking to a wide variety of legal, policy, political, and civil society audiences; 
  • Monitor, scrutinise and critically analyse relevant developments, such as new caselaw, policy announcements, legislative developments and stakeholder consultations – these could be EU or Member State level – and propose strategic responses;
  •  Lead and/or participate in meetings and workshops to promote and represent ClientEarth’s thinking and analysis; 
  • Undertake advocacy with relevant stakeholders at EU and national level, including politicians, government advisers, private sector actors and NGOs;
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with key partners including other NGOs, lawyers, science and policy experts, journalists and politicians; 
  • Where required, support fundraising activities, including the development of applications and reports to funders; 
  • Work with the communications team to support efforts to raise public awareness about relevant issues through, for example, social media or media interviews; 
  • In cooperation with the Head of Programme and other team members, develop strategies and programmes of work that best contribute to identified and agreed goals related to ocean health.


This role will be contracted for an initial period of 12 months, beginning in September 2019 (or as soon thereafter as possible, given notice obligations). ClientEarth anticipates offering the post-holder an extended contract / indefinite role at the end of this initial period.


This position will be based in ClientEarth’s Brussels office. The role will involve some travel within Europe.

Person Specification

Education and training

  • Degree in law, or equivalent (essential); 
  • Relevant legal professional qualification in an EU jurisdiction (highly desirable).

Experience & knowledge

  •  A demonstrated track record in law (preferably in a EU Member State or at EU level) and of contribution to strategic legal thinking, advocacy and creative problem solving (essential); 
  • A good understanding of EU conservation law, including the Birds and Habitats Directives and Marine Strategy Framework Directive (essential) and fisheries law (desirable); 
  • Demonstrated track record of network and relationship development and engaging with wide variety of external stakeholders (essential), with experience of working with civil society organisations (desirable);
  • Experience of instructing and managing external counsel and building cases for litigation (essential) and shepherding legal challenges through court proceedings and/or making complaints to the European Commission (desirable); 
  • A good understanding of the political, institutional and policy landscape relevant to wildlife protection at EU level and/or in France, Portugal or Ireland (desirable); 
  • Experience with issues relating to management of MPAs (desirable); 
  • A good understanding of EU political and legislative processes (desirable);
  • Knowledge of public/administrative law in France, Portugal or Ireland (desirable)

Key competencies

  • Fluent in English and ideally another European language, with excellent writing and editing skills; 
  • Entrepreneurial approach to the law – ability to spot opportunities, unafraid to pursue innovative legal approaches and interpretations, excellent critical and lateral thinking, and analytical skills; 
  • Confidence working with and assimilating complex technical, scientific, political and legal material and ability to grasp new concepts quickly;  Ability to work well under pressure, with good project management skills, including responding positively towards shifting circumstances and competing timelines, and capable of setting priorities in area of responsibility; 
  • Ability to execute work independently and take the initiative when required, including breaking complex strategies into defined, outcome-oriented activities; 
  • Excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills, with ability to foster positive and collaborative working relationships with diverse internal and external individuals, and to project manage others, such as external lawyers and technical advisers; 
  • Excellent political, commercial and practical judgement and diplomacy;  Superior written and oral communication skills to give authoritative advice and influence external audiences and to adapt language, content and style to make communications on legal and ecological issues accessible to various non-expert audiences; 
  • Strong core IT skills (able to use MS Office, Internet, databases, teleconferencing and social media).

For more information and to apply for this position follow this link.

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