Chief Legal Officer (Monitoring Officer) - Cumbria County Council

We are currently looking for an innovative and inspirational leader to fill the position of Chief Legal Officer. As a key member of the executive leadership team, you will provide effective leadership to the Legal and Democratic service, whilst collaborating with the wider organisation to drive the council's key objectives, priorities, and vision.  

This is an exciting time of change for Cumbria County Council, as we are working closely with our district colleagues and elected members on Local Government Reorganisation, and for the right candidate this could be a career defining opportunity to join us and help shape the future of Cumbria. Ideally, we are looking for an experienced Chief Legal Officer, who has demonstrable knowledge and experience of the governance requirements associated with the transition to a new unitary model.

You will also fulfil the statutory role of Monitoring Officer, so we are looking for an exceptional communicator, who is approachable, can build and maintain successful partnerships, and who can create an open and honest environment, ensuring good governance and secure compliance. 

Inspirational, professional, and with a proven track record in change management, you will bring experience and focus with you, leading the wider organisation and supporting elected members with consistency and clarity. If you're looking for a new challenge, where you will be at the front of major strategy and change implementation, this is the role for you. 


Contract: From appointment until 31 May 2023 

Chief Legal Officer Role Profile (PDF 210KB)

This is a fantastic opportunity for the right person, so if you think this could be you, please contact our recruitment partners at Penna:

  • Nick Raper on 07715 690463
  • Kelly Ridley on 07709 512415

or apply online

We are happy to offer this role as a mixture of homeworking and office-based, and welcome discussions on what we can offer to the right candidate. 

Closing date:   Sunday 26 September 2021

Technical interviews:   Week commencing 27 September 2021

Psychometric Testing:   Week commencing 4 October 2021

Final interviews - Day 1:   Week commencing 18 October 2021

Chief Officer Committee - Day 2:   Week commencing 18 October 2021

Psychometric Tests

 Psychometric testing will be conducted on-line with a follow-up verification telephone call from an external assessor.  In order to access the tests required you will receive two separate emails for the following assessments:

  • 16 PF assessment 
  • WAVE assessment  

 These emails will contain detailed instructions on how to access each of the tests.  The tests will be assessed independently, and the results will be fed back to members of the selection panel prior to your interview.

At Cumbria County Council, we are working with residents, businesses, communities and partners to deliver the best services possible, and we know we must do that within the available resources. By working together, we will ensure that people in Cumbria are healthy and safe; that places in Cumbria are well connected and thriving; and that our economy is growing and benefits everyone.

We are aware of the realities and uncertainty facing the public sector, especially as we work through the next phases of Local Government Reorganisation and with the new challenges COVID-19 has brought, but we see the opportunity to innovate, integrate, and collaborate; we are always focussed on how we can improve outcomes and take our county into the future.

We are ambitious and are committed to creating the conditions to effect lasting positive change. We know that our organisational culture is key and we've invested heavily in engaging with our workforce and supporting them to work in new ways. We are focussed on performance and delivery and ensuring we have a financially sustainable future.

Council Plan

Workforce Development Plan (PDF 3MB)

Medium Term Financial Plan (PDF 2MB)

Structure Chart (PDF 178KB)

Local Government Reorganisation

We understand candidates will be keen to discuss Local Government Reorganisation with us, and both the challenges and opportunities this will bring to Cumbria. We are an ambitious organisation, committed to securing the best possible outcomes for our communities and residents.

Cumbria County Council has an efficient and high-quality legal service; we deliver a wide range of legal and governance support across all services, whilst providing robust and high-quality advice, ensuring compliance and good governance. The team are also at the forefront of the Councils reshaping programme, delivering services in a new way due to unprecedented change in Local Government. 

We are an innovative department with a good base of experienced legal staff who have come to Cumbria from all over the Country, and we welcome new ideas and inventive approaches to service delivery.

The HM Coroner's Service

The HM Coroners Service in Cumbria has the primary function to investigate, and subsequently hold inquests, into cases where a death is sudden, unnatural or of unknown cause, either in the community, or in public institutions (e.g. prison, police custody) within the county.

It is a customer focused service dealing with a wide variety of stakeholders (such as Doctors, police, undertakers, next of kin/bereaved, etc.), and delivers a service at one of the most difficult and emotional periods in an individual's life.

The provision of a local Coroners Service is a legal and statutory function of the local authority, and it has no discretion in providing this service. The authority must provide the appropriate resources, funding, and support to enable a HM Coroner to carry out their statutory role and legal responsibilities.  More information on the HM Coroner's Service.

Legal and Democratic Services

Cumbria County Council is a modern employer, allowing our staff have access to technology that enables them to work remotely and flexibly, as well as using an effective case management system and access to excellent online research facilities. Our team is predominantly based in the newly built Cumbria House offices at Carlisle, and we have a sub office in South Cumbria, the team also work from home, and we encourage remote working to support the team needs. 

The team benefits from expertise in local government across Legal Assistants, Legal Officers, Lawyers, Lead Lawyers, In house Advocates, Senior Lawyers and Group Lawyers/Managers. The team is led by the Head of Legal and the Chief Legal Officer.

Some of the legal sectors we cover:


This team works closely with the Education services within Cumbria County Council, including advising the Council on school organisation, any issues concerning schools and SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabilities). They regularly deal with a SEND caseload, including advocacy at tribunals, as well as arranging clerk admission appeals and independent review panels for the majority of Cumbrian Schools. 


This team have been integral to major corporate projects, including significant changes to employee's terms and conditions, mass litigation spreading over a number of years, major policy changes as well as some ground-breaking tribunal cases. They advise schools on employment issues, as well as undertake advocacy in the tribunal for core council and school claims.


The Inquest service represents the County Council in all inquests where the deceased is a service user, employee or looked after child or where the Council otherwise has an interest. We have had several high-profile inquests in recent years.


This team undertake prosecutions for trading standards on a wide range of issues; from animal welfare and doorstep selling, to ensuring school attendance and on highway obstructions.


The team bring and defend claims that fall outside of the Council's insurance scheme which are wide ranging and varied - including judicial review and multiple litigation.


The Council is the Local Planning Authority for Waste, Minerals, and its own applications in its area. It is also the Surveying Authority for Public Rights of Way in its area. Our Planning Lawyers and Lead Lawyers advise the Council's planning and rights of way officers, and provide advice to the Council's Development Control and Regulation Committee, which determines minerals and waste related planning applications, applications by the Council for development on its own land, rights of way and common land applications. They negotiate s106 and other planning agreements, represent the Council at public enquiries and defend any judicial review claims that are brought against planning decisions and public rights of way decisions of the Council.


The Council has a substantial property portfolio held in relation to all the Council's business areas, and the property team provide Legal Services to support the Council in managing that portfolio.  We provide a range of advice to Council officers on a variety of commercial property matters and work closely with project teams such as the Council's Infrastructure Recovery Programme and the Carlisle Southern Link Road Scheme.

Children and Adults

The Children and Adult Team is a newly merged as from October 2019, to provide a dynamic and responsive team to meet the needs of the People Directorate.

The adults team deal with a myriad of issues relating to over 18's, including applications to the Court of Protection, Mental Health, Ordinary Residence, adult safeguarding, challenges to service provision and funding, development of policy work and advice on all areas.  The team do their own advocacy for the majority of our cases. 

The Children's team deal with all aspects of Children's Social Care work delivering high quality and practical legal services to support the Council.  The team deal with a wide variety of cases involving some complex casework in the High Court.  The staff in this team give guidance on the implications of legislation, case law and other emerging developments in the children social care area. 


This team supports the Council as a commissioner of services by advising on high value public procurement and public contracts.  As part of this service, they draft and negotiate complex contracts and other agreements on behalf of the Council and provide advice on contract management, including contract dispute resolution and insolvency. The team supports the Council's commercialisation objectives, providing legal support on a range of commercial matters, including commercial trading and charging, company law and practice and joint ventures.


The Governance team support the Council as a commissioner of services by advising on high value public procurement and public contracts.  As part of this service, they draft and negotiate complex contracts and other agreements on behalf of the Council and provide advice on contract management, including contract dispute resolution and insolvency. They also support the Council's commercialisation objectives, providing legal support on a range of commercial matters, including commercial trading and charging, company law and practice and joint ventures.

Democratic Services

This team supports the Council to maintain high standards of governance by making sure that agendas, reports, and minutes for Council meetings are published on time, to a high standard, and that meetings are conducted lawfully. The team provide end to end support for the cycle of Council meetings, providing advice on a range of issues from agenda planning, through public participation and meeting procedures. They lead on projects that improve and modernise the Council's meeting administration and undertake an annual programme of work to support the Council's democratic processes.

More information about Democratic Services and our function

As an equal opportunities employer, Cumbria County Council is committed to the equal treatment of all current and prospective employees and does not condone discrimination on the basis of age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, gender identity, or marriage and civil partnership.

We aspire to have a diverse and inclusive workplace and strongly encourage suitably qualified applicants from a wide range of backgrounds to apply and join Cumbria County Council.

For a confidential discussion on how we can support any of your needs throughout the recruitment process, please reach out to Orlanda Wright (Resourcing Advisor) on 

In Cumbria we are achieving despite the challenges including the impact that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has had on our workforce, communities, and businesses. Alongside the financial constraints on public services, we have a large and unique landscape. 

Serving the county's half a million residents there is currently 1 county council, 6 district councils, 2 national park authorities, 6 NHS organisations, over 250 town and parish councils over the second largest county in England. We recognise that leading in collaboration with communities and with partner organisations is the only way to achieve more. We are also responding to the next phase of Local Government Reform, working with our partners and district councils to embrace the opportunities that come with this change. 

We are clear that the Council's role is, now and in the future, to create the conditions to effect change - using a strength based approach so that the conversations we have with our residents and partners start with building on what is already there and what works well, and what we can do together. So leadership here means facilitating, enabling, and supporting. Our approach is based on effective and continuous community engagement, led by Elected Members as a strong voice for their communities.

The Council makes significant contributions to key partnerships at strategic and local level, and leads where we can make a positive difference. We have a long tradition of partnership working. It is in our DNA and partners tell us they value this. We are now pushing ourselves to the next level to achieve the ambitions we've set out.

We provide leadership to Cumbria's Health and Wellbeing Board, in the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Children's Trust and Safer Cumbria - all of which contribute to improving the safety, health and wellbeing of residents. 

Whilst the local authority role in education has changed significantly over the last decade or so, the Council continues to successfully enable educational improvement, supporting the Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders (CASL). Over the last 2 years, we have actively increased the contribution we make to improving skills in Cumbria more widely, including leading work across the health and care system on workforce matters, aligning our community learning and skills offer to identified local and business needs and providing leadership to the forum of training and further education providers.

We are building new types of relationships with parish and town councils and with the vibrant local community and voluntary sector. We have begun to work more closely with parish and town councils to design and deliver services with early successes on highways services. The Council's ongoing conversation with the community and voluntary sector about working together in different ways to support communities is underway and is beginning to pay dividends.

There's more to Cumbria than hills and lakes. Work with us, challenge yourself and take your career to the next level.

Visit YourCumbria for the latest Council news.