[NOW CLOSED] We’re recruiting: Legal Officer and Senior Legal Officer

[NOW CLOSED] We’re recruiting: Legal Officer and Senior Legal Officer

Role summary

We are currently recruiting a Legal Officer and a Senior Legal Officer to join our small and dedicated team. They will conduct strategic litigation, provide case support to lawyers, represent media and (citizen) journalists, deliver trainings on media law and strategic litigation, assess grant applications, and help with public communications, working closely with the Legal Director, Senior Legal Officers and Grants Officers.

About Media Defence

Media Defence is a charity that helps media to defend their rights. We support independent media, journalists and citizen journalists who are under legal threat by making sure that lawyers are available to defend them. We engage in strategic litigation to improve the regulatory environment for media freedom, make grants to organisations in various countries to run media defence programmes, and build the capacity of the lawyers and organisations we work with on issues of media law.

Media Defence was set up in 2008 and has established itself as a leader in the field. To date, we have supported over 1,000 cases, helping hundreds of journalists in over 110 countries. Our work has helped prevent over 300 years of detention for media workers and avoided £500m in damages. We have supported 40 partners and have trained 144 lawyers.

Main Responsibilities

Strategic litigation
• Developing strategic cases in the field of freedom of expression law and digital rights
• Undertaking legal and factual research, including on comparative and international law on freedom of expression and related issues, and the legal environment in different countries
• Case management
• For the Senior Legal Officer role, managing Legal Officers
• Drafting and/or editing briefs and other litigation materials as required, including amicus briefs
• Helping maintain contacts with pro bono lawyers and other Media Defence partners
• Assisting in the preparation and implementation of Media Defence’s litigation strategy

Grant making and case support
• Overseeing and assisting the Grants Officers in vetting grant applications and preparing case assessments
• As the primary point of contact for local lawyers receiving a grant from Media Defence, assessing their need for case support and providing any support that may be necessary, e.g., providing advice on case strategy, reviewing proposed legal arguments or conducting research
• Analysing case outcomes

• Overseeing and updating Media Defence’s training modules and materials on a regular basis
• Delivering trainings on strategic litigation and free speech online

Other responsibilities
• Assisting our team members in reporting to our board and donors by providing data regarding our case work in a timely manner
• Representing Media Defence at public events as required
• Contributing to the website and other materials for external use as required including drafting blogs and legal updates as well as contributing to social media content
• Recruiting and managing legal volunteers

The Senior Legal Officer role has line manager responsibility for the Legal Officer(s).

Person Specification

Qualifications and experience:
• Qualified lawyer
• Working as a lawyer in human rights or media law for:
o At least two years, for the Legal Officer role
o At least five years, for the Senior Legal Officer role
• A good understanding of international standards on freedom of expression. Knowledge of and experience working with international human rights standards and mechanisms and/or national rights frameworks, and with the human rights community

• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and a pleasant, diplomatic manner in interacting with colleagues at all levels, professional contacts and the general public
• Excellent time management and organisational skills including the ability to manage effectively multiple cases and projects in a fast-paced environment
• Fluency in English with excellent writing and editorial skills.
• Ability to work in a diverse multi–cultural environment
• Ability to work in a small team
• Ability to work both independently and with others
• Integrity, professional discretion and ability to handle confidential matters

• Experience of working in different legal systems would be an advantage
• Good working knowledge (spoken and written) of Russian, French and/or Spanish would be an advantage

Equality and diversity are fundamental to our mission. We are committed to the recruitment and retention of individuals from diverse backgrounds and who reflect the diverse communities in which we operate.

Terms of Appointment

Contract:             Permanent, full time (37.5 hours, occasional evening and weekend work
Salary:                  £30,963 – £46,800 per annum, dependent on experience.
Location:             We combine home working and office-based working to suit individual and organisational needs. While there is scope for working from home, this role will require presence in our central London office two days per week.
Pension:               Contributory pension scheme (employer matched contribution up to max. 8%)
Annual leave:    25 days annual leave plus bank holidays

Responsible to:         Legal Director
Key relationships:   CEO, Legal Director, Senior Legal Officer, Legal Officers, Grants Officers, external lawyers, partners and beneficiaries

On joining Media Defence, all employees are automatically able to access professional support through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provided by Health Assured Limited and through a digital health app, Peppy.

We offer:

  • an enhanced maternity and paternity leave package
  • up to ten days additional leave (5 paid/5 unpaid) per year after probation
  • a range of training and development tools to offer support our employees to improve or develop skills and knowledge for the benefit of both the individual and the organisation

How to Apply

If you are interested in applying for this role, please send your application, referencing ‘Legal Officer’ or ‘Senior Legal Officer’, to Your application must include:

• your CV (max. two pages); and
• a covering letter (max. two pages),

explaining your motivation for applying for the role, along with how you will meet the criteria in the Person Specification.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 31 January 2023.

If you have any questions relating to the role or the process or would like any adjustments made to accommodate your needs, please contact us at

To learn more about our work, read our Annual Report.

Recent News

Guardians of the Amazon: Abraji and FLIP’s Joint Report on Journalism in the Region

Our partners, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) have joined forces to address the challenges facing journalism in the Amazon, one of the most difficult regions to cover due to its natural density and the intersection of legal and illegal economic interests. For this report, the two […]


Meet the Team: Chloe Pethick, MEL Officer

Can you tell us a little about yourself? I’m Chloe Pethick, and I joined Media Defence in February 2024 as the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer. I hold a BA in Russian and International Relations, and an MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies, so I’ve previously had quite a strong regional focus. Prior to joining […]


World Press Freedom Day Side Event: Profiling and surveillance, a renewed challenge to freedom of expression

From May 2-4 2024, UNESCO and the government of Chile will host the 31st edition of World Press Freedom Day in Santiago. The global commemorative conference commemorates the vital role of journalism and information access in fostering a sustainable future that upholds diversity of voices. Media Defence is organising a side event at the conference […]