Legal Specialist

UN Capital Development Fund, New York, United States

Skill Required:, Finance and AccountsPolicy/ Advocacy and Campaign
Preferred Experience: 
5 years
Closing Date for Applications: 
12th June, 2020

Job Description


Part of the UNDP Bureau for Management Services (BMS), the UNDP Legal Office (“LO”) is the exclusive source of legal advice to the Administrator and all UNDP business units, and to the United Nations Capital Development Fund (“UNCDF”).

As an essential part of UNDP's institutional integrity, the LO ensures that UNDP and UNCDF perform their mandates on a firm legal basis in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter, the regulations approved by the Executive Board and the rules and policies promulgated by or under the authority of the Administrator. The LO also enables effective programme delivery by helping provide integrated management solutions for UNDP offices, including identifying legal risks and suggesting measures for their mitigation. In addition, the LO protects the legal interests of UNDP and UNCDF by defending them in legal actions.

UNCDF is as an affiliated fund of UNDP under the authority of the Administrator, who serves simultaneously as UNCDF’s Managing Director. Authority for managing most aspects of UNCDF has been delegated to the UNCDF Executive Secretary. UNCDF is the UN’s development advocate for the world’s last mile communities, primarily Least Developed Countries (LDCs). As a part of the United Nations family, the agency believes that the maintenance of international peace and security in the world extends to promoting economic development through the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”).

With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers catalytic finance models that provide missing middle solutions in underserved geographies, where other sources of finance are not meeting needs. This approach is backed by principles of responsible investment; responsible and minimal concessionality; high development impact; complementarity (minimal overlap) with other development finance actors; and demonstration effect, with the aim to crowd in other public and private investors.

Today, UNCDF: (1) is currently managing a growing portfolio of loans and guarantees on its balance sheet; (2) is partnering with third-party fund managers to establish investment funds that will provide expanded investment solutions to enterprises, local governments and project developers in these communities; and (3) is exploring inter-agency offers for UNCDF to work with the wider United Nations system to appraise investible projects that can drive SDG outcomes at country level.


Reporting to the Senior Legal Advisor Corporate and Institutional Law Practice (ICS-12), the Legal Specialist will support the work of LO in delivering legal advice and services to UNCDF, to facilitate continuing usage of UNCDF’s unique capital mandate within the UN family and to protect UNCDF and the wider UNDP from legal risks, primarily in its investment operations. The Legal Specialist will assist in guiding the correct interpretation of, and compliance with, the various legal policies, guidelines, rules and regulations applicable to corporate and institutional legal matters and ultimately, driving SDG-positive outcomes.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Legal Specialist will assist in the provision of legal support to UNCDF by supporting the LO in the following:

  • Advise on transaction structures and legal documentation for proposed investment operations by UNCDF (including, but not limited to, lending, grant and guarantee-making activities) to ensure compliance with UNDP/UNCDF regulations, rules, policies and procedures;
  • Issues of the privileges and immunities of UNDP/UNCDF, its archives, its officials and experts on mission, including facilitating liaison with the UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) on privileges and immunities
  • Provision of legal advice on the interpretation and application of applicable legal frameworks, the Financial Regulations and Rules and relevant rules of procedure governing the operations of UNCDF.
  • Based on experience gained from addressing issues related to legal management functions, identify and assist in advising on areas where systemic or policy changes may be warranted in order to strengthen UNCDF’s accountability and/or allow operational units to carry out their functions more effectively and efficiently, including continual review and updating of standard texts, policies and procedures, in consultation with the concerned organizational units.
  • Resolution of disputes involving UNCDF, and contractors and other third parties.
  • Conducting legal research on legal issues relevant to UNDP and UNCDF as necessary.
  • Providing other assistance as may be required by the Senior Legal Adviser or LO Director.

UNCDF Investment Operations

  • Conducting legal due diligence on proposed transactions including (but not limited to): prospective loan and guarantee transactions; review of project documents and agreements, constitutive documents of proposed borrowers;
  • Drafting and/or reviewing, negotiating, and finalizing all relevant legal documentation required for UNCDF’s lending, grant making and guarantee making activities, including any amendments thereto;
  • Handling of legal aspects of implementation and monitoring of projects/transactions post-investment including (but not limited to): advising on waiver requests, amendments, consents and approvals or restructurings, amongst others;
  • Liaising with co-lenders/investors, partners and external legal counsel (on a fee or pro bono basis) as appropriate.
  • Advising on bespoke investment fund and structured finance solutions for private actors to work in partnership with UNCDF, as well as in the review of offering memoranda, organizational documents, service provider agreements to ensure compliance with UNDP/UNCDF policies and practice.
  • Supporting the production and distribution of marketing materials (from a legal perspective) to raise awareness about the UNCDF’s suite of services (technical assistance, grants, and investment solutions).

Corporate and Institutional Law Services

  • Assist in the provision of legal advice to UNCDF Executive Secretary and UNCDF senior management team to ensure compliance with all applicable UNDP/UNCDF legal and regulatory requirements with respect to UNCDF’s operations;
  • Providing legal counsel and support on resource mobilization activities through three channels: (1) official development assistance (2) philanthropic foundations and (3) private individual and institutional investors;
  • Assist in the review, negotiation and settlement of claims and disputes arising from commercial contracts, agreements and other arrangements involving UNCDF;
  • In coordination with the respective organizational units, assist UNCDF in reviewing and clearing standard and non-standard legal instruments, memoranda of understanding and agreements with UN entities, vendors and other partners, as well as settlement of claims and other disputes arising therefrom, in accordance with the applicable policies and procedures and provide advice on questions of interpretation of such instruments and arrangements including dispute resolution;
  • Assist in the provision of legal advice, assistance and support concerning UNCDF’s procurement activities and contracting requirements, including the preparation, review and negotiation of commercial agreements and contracts;
  • Prepare or assist in the preparation of legal opinions/advice on a wide range of corporate and institutional issues, including Executive Board decisions, the application of the Financial Regulations and Rules and policies and procedures applicable to UNCDF, etc;
  • Liaise with the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), as appropriate, in order to obtain specific services within UN/OLA’s remit, and coordinate the legal services provided by OLA with respect to UNCDF with regard to corporate and institutional legal matters referred to OLA by the LO;
  • Performs other functions as requested by the Senior Legal Adviser, Corporate and Institutional Law or the LO Director.

Required Skills and Experience


  • A Postgraduate or an advanced degree in law (Master of Laws (LL.M) and/or Juris Doctor (J.D.)), as well as admission to the bar of a Member State or equivalent qualification to practice law in a Member State.
  • Experience:
  • A minimum of 7 years of experience in the practice of law with a reputable law firm, financial institution, a government and/or an international organization is required. Legal experience as a practicing lawyer in the legal department of a development finance institution or multilateral development bank, with proven technical competence and experience in lending and finance operations, is a strong asset;
  • Good understanding of private debt, private equity, fixed income and/or project finance transaction structuring solutions is a distinct advantage, as well as experience in executing innovative investment product solutions within multilateral institutions
  • Experience with the United Nations Legal Framework and the legal institutional arrangements of United Nations organizations including, in particular, the UN Financial Regulations and Rules and programming policies and procedures, is desirable but not required.
  • Practical experience the field operations of fund formation, investment management and/or structured finance is desirable.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English is required, and in French highly desirable;
  • Knowledge of another official UN language is considered as an asset.


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