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Legal Director for the Department of Transport

Contract Type
Legal, Management, Public Sector
Expiry Date
The successful candidate will be an accomplished legal leader able to make an effective legal and wider contribution in a public sector environment that fuses public law issues and significant commercial projects.

Job Description

Reporting to Claire Johnston, Director General. 

The successful candidate will be an accomplished legal leader able to make an effective legal and wider contribution in a public sector environment that fuses public law issues and significant commercial projects. Within DfT, you will need to navigate a large and complex department, demonstrating your grip on the legal function and making a contribution as a senior leader. As a member of DfT’s Executive Committee you will support the Permanent Secretary and her senior team in managing the Department. Membership of DfT’s Business Investment and Commercial Committee will involve you in the governance and assurance of its most significant programmes and projects. At the same time, you will be leading a team of lawyers employed by GLD and looking to GLD for career development and opportunities. 

You will be accountable to both DfT and GLD for delivering a highly effective and efficient legal service. You will have delegated budgetary responsibility for a legal budget of more than £10m and will need to be financially and commercially astute. Strong leadership and communication skills are essential to unlocking the benefits of the shared service business model. 

Key responsibilities include: 

• to ensure that legal advice of the highest quality is provided to DfT’s ministers and officials, providing that advice personally where required; 

• to create an environment in which legal analysis is properly integrated into the decision making and organisational culture of DfT; 

• to provide visible and effective leadership of the division, assessing and managing demand for legal work, planning and negotiating budgets and resources to meet DfT’s legal needs and seeking out innovative approaches to improve value for money; 

• to engage staff and lead change to develop a flexible, confident, innovative and efficient team; 

• to develop the skills and capability of the people under your direction, using performance and talent management effectively to ensure everyone fulfils their potential and 

• to contribute to the wider leadership of GLD in delivering consistent and excellent value for money legal services to government. 
You will have responsibility for the legal work of the division and overall management responsibility for the Deputy Legal Director, 9 Deputy Directors and the wider division of around 100 lawyers, as well as a small business services team. 

Legal Qualifications and Experience 

You must be a solicitor or barrister qualified in England and Wales, experienced to a level that will command instant credibility with Permanent Secretaries, ministers and senior policy colleagues. Experience may have been gained in private practice, in-house in the private or public sector, or in a regulatory body. 

You must have significant expertise in either or both of 2 areas of law: 

(1) public and EU law and 
(2) the law and practice underpinning DfT policy and operational delivery. 

Where candidates do not have experience of both these areas of law then they must demonstrate the ability to come up to speed quickly with new areas of law. 

You will need to demonstrate the following legal and leadership skills: 

Legal Professional Skills 

• The ability to think creatively and give authoritative, risk-based, legal advice that facilitates practical solutions, especially in the uncharted waters of EU exit. 

• An in-depth understanding of the interface with the private sector (including private sector lawyers) in securing efficient and value for money outcomes in both policy and operational delivery. 

Business delivery skills 

• The capability to lead a large legal function, managing legal risk, maintaining and enhancing the legal professionalism of the team and commanding the confidence of senior stakeholders, internal and external. 

• The ability to balance workloads and resources across a large team, with a commitment to improving service delivery and value for money. 

People and capability skills 

• The communication and management skills to lead and motivate staff at a time of growing work pressures, championing talent management and development, building a strong culture of continuous learning and improving staff engagement. 

• A commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Corporate leadership skills 

• The ability to work collaboratively with senior peers in leading a large organisation, making a strong contribution to governance structures, initiating change projects and driving an organisational culture of professional excellence and continuous improvement. 



Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is developed vetting.

Selection process details

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.


Candidates in their probationary period are not eligible to apply for vacancies within this department.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.