Application deadline closed.

Job Description

At the SKAO we are coordinating a global effort to deliver one of the largest science facilities on the planet. The SKAO telescopes will be next-generation instruments that will help to answer key questions in astrophysics, drive technological innovation and support human capital development.

More than a dozen partner countries and over a thousand scientists and engineers around the world are already on board, making the SKA project an international collaboration like no other, and one of the most ambitious science and engineering endeavours of the 21st century.

Headquartered in the UK, with telescope sites in Australia and South Africa, the SKAO will be one observatory operating two telescopes, an endeavour spanning three continents. Multinational by design, in early 2021 the SKAO became an intergovernmental organisation, one of only a select handful of science infrastructures to do so worldwide.

Construction activities for the SKAO’s telescopes in Australia and South Africa have started in 2021, along with a ramping up of SKAO staff in both countries. It is expected that the transition from the Construction Phase to the Operations Phase will happen around 2028.

SKAO Operations in South Africa will be conducted in partnership with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). SKAO Operations in Australia will be conducted in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The Observatory will also partner closely with a global network of SKA Regional Centres through which astronomers will access science data products and a suite of tools and resources to further analyse the SKA telescopes’ data.

For more information on the SKA project visit

The SKA Observatory offers a competitive salary and a generous pension and benefits package. As an employee of an intergovernmental organisation, an appointee who is not a national of the country in which the role is based may be subject to personal Privileges and Immunities.

An exciting opportunity for an experienced attorney to join an international organisation and contribute to the domestication of international law in Australia.

The Role

The SKA-Low Legal Manager will provide legal advice and consultancy to the SKA-Low team in Australia, the SKAO Legal Department, and other SKAO colleagues, relating to matters in Australia and SKAO’s wider operations. They will spot and mitigate risk, and seek legal and practical solutions to issues. The Legal Manager will manage and oversee the full range of legal activities relating to the establishment of the SKAO, its construction and operation in Australia.

The SKAO Legal Department is responsible for all matters associated with the operation of the Observatory as a legal entity with an international personality. The SKA-Low Legal Manager will report to the SKA-Low Telescope Director and will take guidance from the SKAO Head of Legal as head of profession.

We value and respect difference and we are committed to building an inclusive culture. We believe that you do your best at work when you have a work/life balance and create an environment where you can balance a successful career with your commitments and interests outside of work. Supporting flexibility is important to us: let us know in your application if you have any flexible working requests.

This position is available on a full-time, part-time or job share basis. The minimum part time arrangement would be approximately 60 hours per fortnight. We note a level of flexibility will be required of the candidate to accommodate meetings outside the standard band of hours to reflect time zones of stakeholders, in particular SKAO in the UK.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

The main aspect of the role is to assist the SKAO Head of Legal in SKAO Australian domestic legal matters including the domestication of SKAO Privileges and Immunities in Australia, and in particular Western Australia, and specifically:

  • Undertake legal research and analysis, preparing advisory notes and briefs as required.
  • Review existing contracts, create new contract templates, and provide expert advice on third parties contract terms concerning a wide spectrum of legal matters.
  • Lead meetings with third parties and stakeholders on contracts and legal matters concerning the SKAO, negotiating and influencing to achieve a successful outcome for SKAO.
  • Draft new policies and guidance notes and provide an expert review and input into policies owned by colleagues in other SKAO departments.
  • Maintain awareness of key legal updates and provide overview of such to relevant SKAO colleagues, to ensure the SKAO functions in line with applicable legal and regulatory requirements, and best practice.
  • Instruct and liaise with the SKAO’s specialist external legal advisors in Australia, ensuring beneficial advice is obtained, and monitoring costs to ensure good value for money, and that the advice is within the scope of the legal budget in Australia.
  • Provide written papers and presentations to meetings of the SKAO Council, its Committees and Subcommittees when requested.
  • Establish and build a legal culture across the SKAO’s operations within Australia, maintaining effective professional relationships with other stakeholders, science organisations and international organisations.
  • Occasional travel in Western Australia, to Canberra, and possibly to HQ in the UK.
  • Undertake other reasonable duties, as directed by the SKA-Low Telescope Director or the Head of Legal.

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Qualified to LLB degree level or higher.
  • Experience in Australian corporate, commercial, and employment law, including litigation.
  • Superior negotiating skills, with the ability to influence people in stakeholder organisations and across SKAO.
  • Diplomatic attitude and ability to work effectively with colleagues from a variety of teams, cultures, and backgrounds.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • A lawyer admitted in Australia with significant PQE experience (typically at least ten years)
  • Knowledge of and experience in construction law, especially NEC4 suite of contacts
  • Knowledge of and experience in diplomatic Privileges and Immunities
  • Knowledge of and experience in Australian criminal law

Equality Diversity and Inclusion Statement

SKA Observatory recognises that our diversity is a strength. We aim to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong, and diverse perspectives and ideas thrive. As such, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are at the core of SKA Observatory’s agenda.

Our aim is to recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, nationality or background.

Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Observatory welcomes and encourages female applicants.

Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided.

SKA Observatory welcome all candidates, especially those from member countries.

The “How to Apply” information contained within the SKA Observatory recruitment portal provides more detail regarding our application and selection approach.