Counsel (Environmental and International Law Practice Group (LEGEN))

The World Bank

Washington, DC, US


Do you want to build a career that is truly worthwhile? Working at the World Bank Group (WBG) provides a unique opportunity for you to help our clients solve their greatest development challenges. The WBG is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty, increasing shared prosperity and promoting sustainable development. With 189 member countries and more than 120 offices worldwide, we work with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges. For more information, visit

The Legal Vice Presidency (LEGVP), under the Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, is responsible for providing legal support to internal and external World Bank clients on operational, advisory and corporate matters. LEGVP provides legal services required by the World Bank and plays an active role in all the World Bank’s activities. In addition, LEGVP helps to ensure that all World Bank activities comply with the institution’s Articles of Agreement, as well as its operational policies and procedures. Organizationally, LEGVP includes geographically-based regional Operational Practice Groups devoted to the legal and policy aspects of the World Bank’s lending operations, Policy and Advisory Practice Groups which provide advice on operations policy, environmental and international law, development finance and structured finance and guarantees and Corporate Practice Groups, which provide advice on corporate finance, administrative and institutional matters for the World Bank.

Department Context

The Environmental and International Law Practice Group (LEGEN) provides support to internal and external Bank clients to promote environmentally and socially sustainable development, in accordance with Bank policies and relevant international laws. LEGEN’s work program includes providing legal advice and services to the Bank’s Regions, Global Practices, Climate Change Group and other Vice Presidencies, on the operational aspects of environmental and international law in Bank-financed projects, including those on environmental and social safeguards; climate change; knowledge creation and knowledge sharing; and development of policies and procedures relating to environmental and international law. Environmental topics include environment and natural resource issues such as climate change, biodiversity, pollution, international waters and water resource management, as well as social issues such as resettlement and indigenous peoples.

Duties & Accountabilities:

The Counsel will play a key role assisting with and providing advice on the Bank’s portfolio of projects which address environmental and natural resource law issues as well as raise environmental and social safeguard policy issues or climate change and related transactional work. This may include working on projects that are the subject of review by the World Bank Inspection Panel and helping coordinate Management’s response to these matters. Specific duties and accountabilities include:

The Counsel would work under the general supervision of the Chief Counsel, LEGEN and would as part of his/her duties:

1.  Serve as Environmental and Natural Resource Legal Advisor

In close collaboration with the Chief Counsel, LEGEN, the Counsel will help establish a business flow of projects that utilize environmental and natural resources law and policy advice and development. The Counsel will be responsible for contact with a wide range of staff and managers in the Sustainable Development Global Practice, identifying legal advice and assistance that LEGEN can provide to network clients. This work will include helping establish areas where the Bank can support law and capacity building and advising Bank programs that provide this support in Bank borrower countries.

2.  Act as Legal adviser regarding World Bank Environmental and Social Safeguards/Standards

The Counsel would, in close consultation with the Chief Counsel, Environmental and International Law, with Lead Counsel and other appropriate LEG staff, provide timely advice on the legal aspects of environmental and social safeguard policies, including providing technical guidance to Bank staff, and to act as a LEG resource in special-risk projects and issues of the development and interpretation of safeguard policies. The Counsel would help ensure the development of a consistent and sound LEG position on significant issues relating to the application of safeguard policies and the new Environmental and Social Framework. In special or high-risk projects, the Counsel would be available to join the task team if so requested.

3. Support Capacity Building efforts for both Staff and Bank borrower countries

The Counsel will assist in building the capacity of Bank borrowers and Bank staff regarding environmental and natural resource law issues, as well as environmental and social safeguard issues. The Counsel may also play a key role in the development and implementation of Bank initiatives to harmonize the laws of borrowing member countries with the requirements of Bank safeguard policies, including under the policy that pertains to the Use of Country Systems.

4. Provide policy advice and transactional legal support to the Bank’s climate agenda

The Counsel will assist in advising clients on legal and policy issues involved in the creation and implementation of World Bank-administered carbon funds/climate facilities. The Counsel may also be called upon to draft and participate in the negotiation of emission reduction purchase agreements and related agreements for the acquisition of emission reductions for the various World Bank-administered carbon funds.

5.  Work across a wide range of Bank units 

The Counsel will work and interact frequently with:

•Lawyers and managers in LEG VPU.

•Counterparts within Regional operational units, Sustainable Development Vice Presidency (SDVP) and Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS). 

•Management and staff at HQ and in the field, as required.

Selection Criteria

• Academic qualifications and experience: 

• Law degree: JD or LLB and LLM (required) SJD or PhD (optional) and admission to the Bar (or equivalent) in at least one jurisdiction, with 5-7 years of relevant experience required.

• Expertise in environmental and natural resources law and climate change policy. 

• Legal transactional experience.

• Ability to formulate policy positions and draft decisions about safeguard issues and defend them with clients, with peers or senior management.

• Ability to work collaboratively, to build trust among peers and colleagues, to respond quickly and consistently to key issues.

• Demonstrated intellectual leadership and ability to integrate knowledge with broader strategic, policy and operational objectives.

• High degree of persuasiveness and diplomacy to generate consensus, especially on divisive legal issues.

• Language skills: Fluency in English, both written and oral, is required, with additional fluency in French, Spanish, Arabic and/or Portuguese highly desirable. 

General Competencies:

• Ability to communicate and defend, orally and in writing, difficult and complex issues and positions to senior Bank management, government officials and civil society groups

• Ability to deal sensitively in multi-cultural environment and build effective working relations with clients and colleagues

• Ability to operate effectively across organizational boundaries

Other competencies required:

Deliver Results for Clients: Adds value by constantly looking for a better way to get more impactful results; sets challenging stretch goals for oneself. Immerses oneself in client experiences and perspective by asking probing questions to understand unmet needs. Demonstrates accountability for achieving results that have an impact. Identifies and proposes solutions to mitigate and manage risks.

Client Orientation: Takes personal responsibility and accountability for timely response to client queries, requests or needs, working to remove obstacles that may impede execution or overall success. 

Flexibility: Able to adapt strategy, and objectives; making corresponding structural or organizational changes as needed, to move the work forward and meet the needs of the situation. 

Collaborate Within Teams and Across Boundaries: Ability to build effective working relationships with colleagues in multidisciplinary teams, brings differing ideas into the forefront, integrates and initiates collaboration across boundaries.

Pressure: Ability to handle demands related to the delivery of multiple tasks within demanding and occasionally conflicting time constraints.

Lead and Innovate: Contributes to new insights to understand situations and develops solutions to resolve complex problems. Adapts as circumstances require and manages impact on own behaviors on others in context of WBG’s values and missions. Identifies and pursues innovative approaches to resolve issues.

Create, Apply and Share Knowledge: Leverage departments and WBG body of knowledge by applying lessons learned and expertise.  Actively invests in knowledge and seeks feedback.  Builds personal and professional networks within and beyond the work group.

Make Smart Decisions: Seeks diversity of information and inputs, researches possible solutions, and generates recommended options. Identifies and understands risks and proposes recommendations. Based on risk analysis, makes decisions in a timely manner within own area of responsibility, considering the interests and concerns of stakeholders.

Professional Maturity: Understands others and the reasons for their behavior. Takes the time to clarify others’ points of view so that progress can be made, particularly in situations of stress or conflict. Is never condescending or arrogant.