Associate General Counsel

  • Human Rights Watch
  • Washington D.C., DC, USA
  • May 04, 2022
Full time Legal

Job Description



General Counsel’s Office

New York or Washington DC preferred

Application Deadline: May 31, 2022

Human Rights Watch (HRW) seeks a lawyer for a new position in the Office of the General Counsel. This position offers a rare entrée into a non-profit leader in the global human rights movement, known for its fearless and accurate reporting and global advocacy to end abuses. The right candidate will engage in almost every aspect of legal management of the organization and will be centrally placed to guide and protect its work and success.

The General Counsel’s Office at Human Rights Watch is responsible for legal oversight of the organization's policies, compliance, risk management, and governance, as well as a wide range of corporate matters including media law, intellectual property, U.S. and foreign operations, tax, insurance and contract review, worldwide litigation and international and domestic employment matters including labor relations. The Associate General Counsel will assist the General Counsel across all areas of work, as part of a growing legal team and a diverse and collegial staff on a variety of projects.

HRW is dedicated to taking on human rights abuses around the world; accordingly, its legal team must be able to provide sound legal and compliance advice to colleagues around the world, including many of whom operate in high-risk and stressful conditions. The focus of this position is legal compliance, internal investigations, policy management, data privacy and GDPR, lobbying, grant compliance, and other in-house matters.  This position focuses on organizational legal and compliance matters, and not advocacy, policy or legal work related to programmatic positions and activities.

This position will be based in the United States, with a preference for New York, NY or Washington D.C., and will report to the General Counsel, based in Washington D.C.

Due to COVID-19, many of our global offices are operating in reduced capacities. The successful candidate may be required to work remotely as local mandates necessitate. We recognize that this moment, during the pandemic, is a uniquely difficult time for most people, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, and we aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible in both the recruitment for and onboarding of this position. 


  1. Lead HRW’s compliance efforts with GDPR and global privacy laws, act as HRW’s Data Protection/Privacy Officer (DPO) and advise colleagues in all departments and offices on data privacy matters, including the sharing of data among jurisdictions (e.g., personal information collection and storage rules, data retention/deletion standards, website requirements, etc.). This position will work closely with IT and the Director of Information Security on policy development and standards;
  2. Provide guidance, systems and policies to aid institutional compliance with state, federal and international lobbying regulations and disclosure laws, and provide related training to staff;
  3. Field requests from staff to identify potential conflicts of interest and provide critical analysis on related policies and procedures;
  4. Conduct complex investigations into unlawful workplace activity, perceived unfair treatment and violations of organizational policies and procedures, draft investigation reports, and produce actionable findings and recommendations in an efficient, thorough, timely and professional manner, in close consultation with Human Resources, the Chief People Officer, and, as appropriate, with outside counsel;
  5. Provide legal counsel and guidance to various departments in the organization in areas such as employment law, tax and charity law, intellectual property management and licensing; and establishment of branch offices and charitable affiliates;
  6. Review, draft, negotiate and approve contracts and licenses, leases, registrations, and other legal documents as required;
  7. Manage and defend litigation where necessary;
  8. Provide proactive advice and research into legal risks and opportunities that can arise in relation to the work of a prominent international human rights advocacy organization;
  9. Create manuals and guidance materials to assist different parts of the organization with legal matters and helps train various staff in legal management and compliance issues as needed;
  10. Have general knowledge of non-profit grant compliance and be able to identify key issues related to grant agreements and compliance obligations; and
  11. Undertake special projects and other duties as required.


Education: A J.D. is required, or equivalent LL.M degree from a U.S. law school if law degree was acquired outside of the U.S. Current admission in good standing is required in at least one U.S. State Bar.

Experience: A minimum of 7 years of work experience as a lawyer in relevant areas is required, with a strong preference for in-house experience. Experience with an international law firm and/or as corporate counsel for a multi-national organization is a plus.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Ability to work to the highest legal standards of practice in a high-risk and fast-paced work environment and tackle both standard and novel legal matters that arise during worldwide NGO operations.
  2. Exceptional interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to partner with clients that include our talented, multi-national and diverse staff and global board.
  3. Proven skills in problem-solving and policy implementation are necessary, pairing sound legal judgment with imaginative thinking to help staff achieve our mission while mitigating risk.
  4. Demonstrated capacity to lead projects and carry them to completion.
  5. Intellectual curiosity, eagerness to take on new responsibilities, and ability to master new topics as needed.
  6. Significant experience in working with (and potentially in recruiting) outside counsel in the US and in other countries.
  7. Self-motivation, excellent organizational skills, meticulousness, and ability to work well under pressure and work effectively towards deadlines.
  8. Outstanding oral and written communication skills in English are required; proficiency in other languages – particularly French or German – is a plus.
  9. Interest in human rights or related areas of law, familiarity with employment law and investigations, and background in non-profit or foundation law are each desirable.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits, including medical, dental, vision, disability and life insurance, an outstanding retirement savings plan and twenty (20) days of vacation per year. HRW offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply. The salary range for this position will be USD 160,000 – 185,000.

How to Apply: Please apply immediately or by May 31, 2022, by visiting our online job portal at and attaching a cover letter and resume.  No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, or if you require a disability-related accommodation to submit your application, please email Due to the large response, application submissions via email will not be accepted and inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. Human Rights Watch does not discriminate on the basis of disability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or criminal record. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high-profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of influential governments and international institutions.