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Human Rights Lawyer

 Job Description: Lawyer (research) October 2020 

The Human Dignity Trust, 4th Floor West – Quality House, 5-9 Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP, United Kingdom Telephone: +44 (0) 207 419 3770 Charity Nº 1158093 

Position: Lawyer (research) 

Type: Fixed term contract to 31 March 2021 

Salary: £40,000-45,000 per annum, commensurate with experience 

Location: London, UK, with remote working available 

Reports to: Head of Legal 

Organisation Overview 

The Human Dignity Trust (the Trust) is a legal charity based in London, UK that supports local lawyers and human rights defenders to uphold human rights and constitutional law in countries where private, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is criminalised. At present, more than 70 jurisdictions worldwide maintain these criminal laws, a figure that is gradually decreasing due to a combination of litigation and legislative reform. Legal provisions that criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people put them beyond the protection of the law, fostering a climate of fear, stigma and violence. These provisions also violate constitutional and international human rights law, including a person’s right to dignity, equality, non-discrimination and privacy. 

The Trust provides pro bono technical legal assistance and advisory services at the request of, and in collaboration with, local human rights defenders, their lawyers and other partners who wish to use the courts to challenge the laws that discriminate against and persecute LGBT people. Since our inception in 2011, we have worked with local partners in 21 countries in all regions of the world. 

Of direct relevance to this role, the Trust also supports the legislative reform of laws that criminalise, discriminate against or fail to protect LGBT people and other vulnerable groups. Laws criminalising LGBT people in the Commonwealth are often part of a wider set of out-dated sexual offences and related laws that discriminate against and do not adequately protect women, children, LGBT people and other vulnerable groups, such as laws relating to rape, sexual assault and ages of consent. Many of these are rooted in colonial-era laws that have long since been reformed in the UK. Building on pan-Commonwealth legal analyses that the Trust has been spearheading since 2014, the Trust is delivering a programme of technical assistance to Commonwealth governments seeking to deliver legislative reform. The Lawyer (research) will work within this programme. 

The current phase of our legislative reform programme runs to 31 March 2021. 

Purpose of the post 

This is an exciting opportunity for an outstanding and passionate lawyer, who will work closely with the Head of Legal and other Trust staff, stakeholders from civil society, the public sector, the pro bono legal community and international experts, to support the implementation of the Trust’s programme on legislative reform of laws across a range of Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific. The focus of this work is on sexual offences and hate crimes legislation. The purpose of this post is to support and manage the legal research components of this programme, which include technical comparative legal research, particularly on matters of criminal law, across multiple common law jurisdictions. 

This post will suit an experienced common law lawyer with a passion for human rights, equality and justice and an ability support and manage elements of a multi-faceted programme and to deliver highest quality work to Commonwealth government and to civil society stakeholders. 

The ideal candidate will therefore bring experience of managing, editing and ensuring high standards of quality control of comparative legal research in a criminal law context in common law jurisdictions. 

Regrettably, as a consequence of the nature of the work that the Trust carries out, Trust staff members are subjected to distressing critiques of LGBT identities and the Lawyer (research) will have to tolerate this with tact and professionalism. 

Responsibilities of the post 

Under the direct supervision and guidance of the Head of Legal, and in close collaboration with the Trust’s Senior Lawyer, the Lawyer (research) will carry out the following duties: 

– Support the design, management and review of legal and contextual research by consultants and pro bono lawyers 

– Critically review and analyse research and recommendations of expert consultants on human rights compliant criminal law provisions pertaining to sexual offences and hate crimes 

– Ensure consistency, quality and technical integrity of technical legal research, to enable its use by legislative drafters and legal teams in developing draft legislation for Commonwealth governments 

– Develop content for training civil society organisations in several Commonwealth jurisdictions on the technical legal elements of legislative reform initiatives 

– Ensure the delivery of high quality and timely research products on legislative reform across the Trust’s departments, in close collaboration with the Head of Legal, the Senior Lawyer and the Senior Advocacy Advisor, in particular 

– Procure and contract consultants (with the administrative support of Programme Officers and other Trust staff) 

– Contribute to activity and financial reporting, internally and externally 

– Provide material for the Trust’s website 

– Any other tasks/duties as reasonably required by the Head of Legal 

Skills, Experience and Qualifications 

Essential skills and experience 

– Demonstrated experience working as a practising lawyer or technical legal researcher, with experience in the fields of criminal law or human rights law in common law jurisdictions 

– A proven understanding of international human rights law and its application to domestic legal frameworks 

– Very high attention to detail and ability to critically assess and edit technical legal documents, research reports and papers 

– Ability to manage research projects with a consistently high level of quality and legal accuracy 

– Ability to manage effectively multiple workstreams in a fast-paced technical environment 

– Fluency in English with excellent writing and editorial skills 

– Demonstrated ability to work well in a diverse multi-cultural environment and with sensitivity to diverse local cultures and contexts 

– Proven ability to work well in a small team 

– Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with senior management and colleagues at all levels 

– Ability to work well both independently and with others 

– Integrity, professional discretion and ability to handle confidential matters 

– Strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, equality and human rights 

Desired skills and experience 

– Experience in legislative reform programmes 

– Knowledge and experience in sexual offences and/or hate crimes legislation 

– Experience in managing multi-country legal and human rights programmes 

– Familiarity with any of the geographic regions in which the Trust works 

– Experience of working in different legal systems in addition to common law systems, in particular Sharia environments 

– Knowledge and experience of the global LGBT human rights movement and developments 


– Law degree 

– Advanced degree in criminal law, human rights law or equivalent experience 

– Admitted to legal practice in a common law jurisdiction (not necessarily in the United Kingdom) or qualifications as a legal academic, particularly in criminal law 

To apply 

Please send a CV of no more than four pages along with a covering letter of no more than two pages explaining how you meet the criteria for this role and why you are an ideal candidate, to Christopher Price at [email protected]. 

Please note that due to the volume of applications we receive we are only able to contact those candidates who are shortlisted for an interview. Please only apply if you meet the essential criteria. 

Closing date for applications: 

Please note that applications will be considered on a rolling basis with a view to the earliest possible appointment, and the recruitment process will close as soon as we find the right candidate. Early submission of applications is encouraged. 

Interviews will be held on a rolling basis at a time suitable to both the Trust and the short-listed applicants. Interviews may be held remotely as needed to accommodate the applicant’s location and/or social distancing guidelines. 

If you meet the essential criteria, have a disability and would prefer to apply in a different format or would like us to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to apply or attend any interview, please let us know. 

All offers of employment will be conditional on the candidate having/securing the right to work in the UK prior to their employment commencing. 

Equal Opportunities 

The Human Dignity Trust is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to diversity and inclusion, and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons. Our aim is to create a safe and secure working environment where a commitment to diversity, opportunity, quality and excellence is part of our guiding values. 

Our employees and any job applicants will receive equal treatment regardless of age, disability (including HIV status), gender identity and expression, intersex status, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. 

Full details of the post can be found on the website