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Legal Counsel

McMaster University
Hamilton (Region), Ontario (CA)
Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Closing date
Oct 27, 2022

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Founded in 1887, McMaster University is a research-intensive, student-centered university dedicated to advancing human and societal health and well-being and has achieved an international reputation as a center of excellence for teaching and learning, innovation, and creativity. Currently, McMaster is home to over 33,000 students, 12,000 staff and 1,000 full-time faculty. As an institution, McMaster is committed to creating a brighter world for all. This starts at home as McMaster University is one of 27 Canadian Institutions who have signed the Okanagan Charter, signifying a commitment to integrating health and well-being into all aspects of campus life. McMaster has been selected as a Hamilton-Niagara Top Employer for the past five years in a row and has also been recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers 2019 and 2020.


Reporting to the University Counsel, the Legal Counsel works closely with senior leaders, administration, and faculty on a variety of legal matters as may be directed. The core responsibilities of the Legal Counsel are to support the Employee/Labour Relations team with all human resources matters at the University and to support the Equity & Inclusion Office and Student Support and Case Management Office with student matters related to human rights and accommodations, student conduct and representation at internal and external tribunals.  Depending on the needs of the University, the Legal Counsel may also be tasked with providing legal advice in any of the following areas of law: business transactions, privacy & records management, immigration, advancement & trusts, copyright & intellectual property, pension & benefits, land & facilities use, faculty relations, research & commercialization, health law, and occupational health & safety. In addition to having deep legal subject matter expertise in the above-noted areas, the Legal Counsel also provides sound, timely advice on matters of University policy and other University legal matters as may be required.


Recognizing and respecting that the University has many stakeholders and its own unique culture, the Legal Counsel must cultivate an ability to successfully work within this environment by demonstrating University acumen, McMaster’s core leadership capabilities, and an aptitude for identifying practical solutions to the legal implications of University business challenges.  Providing practical solutions to the University’s legal team in additional areas while demonstrating business practicality, sound legal judgment and an understanding of the unique features of the academy is a critical element of this role.


Responsibilities Will Include:


  • Providing legal advice in any of the following areas of law: human resources and labour relations, human rights and accommodation, student conduct, business transactions, privacy & records management, immigration, advancement & trusts, copyright & intellectual property, pension & benefits, land & facilities use, faculty relations, research & commercialization, health law, occupational health & safety.
  • Responsible for matters related to privacy and access to information, policies, procedures, bylaws, and elections.
  • Manage a range of complex and sensitive files that may involve ethical issues or impact the reputation of the University and members of the University community and careful judgement is required to prioritize these files and to act to minimize any potential liability.
  • Provide legal advice and legal services to faculties and administrative units on a wide range of legal issues, and work closely with those individuals who are leading portfolios that include, legal liability, contracts, agreements, policy development and application, labour and employment law, and administrative law.
  • Supports the strategic growth of the University by providing effective and reliable legal counsel to the Board of Governors, Senate, Faculty Members, and committees on ongoing business operations.
  • Evaluating and mitigating potential business risks by thoroughly analyzing, reviewing, and advising on contracts, agreements, transactions, etc.
  • Negotiating, drafting, and reviewing a variety of complex agreements, ensuring that all legal documentation is composed and implemented properly with all associated reporting and due diligence requirements strictly adhered to.
  • Maintaining up to date knowledge of industry best practices and compliance obligations and staying informed of proposed and existing legislation and regulatory developments which can impact current and future operations.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of established compliance/legal processes and controls and recommending and implementing enhanced quality control measures.
  • Working collaboratively and productively with various stakeholder groups, including political and governmental organizations, external partners, and community groups, while maintaining an objective and unbiased perspective. 

Ideal Candidate Skills & Experience:


  • A Law degree. A minimum of 4 to 5 post-call years of experience; or an equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered. Be a member a Canadian provincial law society or be eligible for membership. A varied work background to have the ability to understand highly technical, scientific, and legal issues that relate to work and work processes at McMaster University. The ability to interpret and comprehend complex legislation and policies combined with excellent inter-personal and written skills. The ability to advise and collaborate with operational business leaders to make recommendations. Excellent analytical, assessment, advocacy, and problem-solving skills. Proven ability to work in a time sensitive, high volume work environment, demonstrating a strong attention to detail and compliance. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to communicate effectively with senior leadership, deliver effective and clear reports in a concise, and effective style. Experience in a university setting and multi‐unionized environment is an asset. Knowledge of, and experience with, best practices in governance; ideally in an academic or broader public sector environment. Maturity, competence, and confidence to operate with independence, credibility, and integrity at the executive level, as well as a professional history of maintaining objectivity while driving appropriate outcomes, managing multiple stakeholder agendas, and promoting high client service standards. Intellectual and conceptual flexibility and creativity, with the ability to analyze, interpret, present, and write about complex ideas and concepts in a clear, concise fashion. Demonstrated tact, calm, and diplomacy in handling difficult situations and divergent views. 

If you are intrigued and invigorated by the details of this opportunity to bring your experience to a new, important, and key role with McMaster University, we would love to have a conversation.


To express interest in this opportunity please apply online by clicking:


For more information about this exciting opportunity please contact Mark Gillis, Senior Consultant, at If you require accommodation to participate in the recruitment process, please let Mark know.


Meridia Recruitment and McMaster University invite applications from all qualified individuals; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. McMaster University is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from First Nations and Aboriginal people, African Canadians, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, women, and persons of any minority sexual orientation or gender identity. Consistent with the principles of employment equity, the primary criterion for appointment to a position is qualifications and professional excellence.

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