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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Legal Researcher: Corporate Accountability & Transparency Programme

Reference No: 2/2019

The closing date (31 May 2019) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) is looking for a legal researcher to join our Corporate Accountability and Transparency team.  Based in Johannesburg or Cape Town, this position is for a legal researcher who has a passion for environmental rights and social justice, whilst having a good understanding of corporate law and the regulatory framework governing financial institutions. The ideal candidate should have a keen interest in holding the South African government, multinational corporations, as well as domestic and international banking institutions accountable for the negative impacts of their operations on our environment and people.

The CER’s Corporate Accountability & Transparency programme works to expose the failures of corporations to comply with environmental laws, and to raise investor awareness of the risks of non-compliance. The programme is pioneering new methods to improve transparency and accountability around the impacts of polluting companies on our environment and people, through:

  • research on financial institutions, including development finance institutions, financial intermediaries, insurance companies and other entities which contribute to the financing and support of coal mining and other mining companies, with a view to hold such institutions accountable for their role in financing and supporting the continued use of fossil fuels in South Africa;
  • tracking environmental impacts and violations of environmental laws by companies operating in South Africa;
  • analysis of environmental disclosures to shareholders by listed companies, including through our Full Disclosure series;
  • input into sustainable reporting frameworks and guidelines;
  • engagement with companies, institutional investors, as well as banking and industry associations regarding environmental impacts and disclosures; and
  • working with our partner organisation, Just Share, to support shareholder activism to compel compliance with environmental laws and disclosure of impacts and violations.

Working with CER’s other programmes we work towards the realisation of environmental justice by relying on legal and other mechanisms, multi-faceted campaigns and strategies to ensure that corporations are held accountable for non-compliance with constitutional obligation and other laws and obligations.


Based in Cape Town or Johannesburg

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • An LLB or equivalent degree. A financial or equivalent qualification would be an added advantage.
  • Knowledge and understanding of: environmental laws and the legal requirements of corporate governance, disclosure, and reporting; sustainable and responsible investment initiatives and associated environmental, social, and governance factors; and legal and procedural requirements for environmental decision-making and legal challenges.
  • Excellent legal and other research and writing skills, with a perfectionist eye for detail.
  • Good public speaking skills (note that CER supports staff development through specialised public speaking training).
  • A sensitivity to social issues and the needs of communities impacted by environmental degradation and injustice.
  • Excellent networking skills, and strong capabilities in building support amongst a wide range of stakeholders, in particular within communities and with community organisations.
  • A commitment to high-quality client service.
  • A passion for social and environmental justice.
  • A commitment to training and development of candidate attorneys and junior attorneys.
  • A commitment to diversity, inclusion and transformation.

Key responsibilities

While we require flexibility from all our staff as our strategic imperatives change and develop over time, key responsibilities of this position currently include the following:

  • Programme implementation: Supporting the objectives of the Programme in ensuring delivery against the CER’s strategic objectives; reporting, recording and sharing learning for systemic change; and supporting strategic and inclusive leadership to the programme team;
  • Strategic litigation: Supporting the programme’s strategic litigation for communities and civil society organisations in line with CER’s litigation strategy and priorities by conducting desktop and, where appropriate/necessary, fieldwork research;
  • Legal research and advocacy: Providing research and input into the programme’s advocacy and engagement with regulators, corporates, and other stakeholders that impact corporate accountability, in order to achieve strategic change and improved practice; researching and drafting evidence-based reports in support of the programme’s strategic objectives; providing input into draft environmental, social, and governance policies and legislation;
  • Strategic communications: Conducting research for the development of communications plans for the programme, bearing in mind the objectives of the programme;
  • Human resources and talent management: Supporting the work of attorneys, candidate attorneys, and any other staff in the programme team; and working to strengthen and celebrate diversity and inclusion in the programme team;
  • Networking and empowerment: Conducting in depth stakeholder mapping and research and building and supporting networks of partners and clients, including affected communities and community organisations, and supporting and participating training of activists.
  • General: Generally contributing to the reputation, institutional strength and resilience, strategic development, and wellbeing of the organisation;
  • Diversity, inclusion and transformation: CER aims to build a diverse, inclusive and transformative culture, and we therefore expect all staff to participate in and work towards this goal.


The salary range is R409 955 to R554 645 (total cost to company) and the salary offered will be dependent on factors that include the qualifications, level of expertise and experience of the successful candidate.

CER is committed to diversity, inclusion and transformation. Candidates from historically disadvantaged or marginalised groups are strongly encouraged to apply for this post.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic. We are environmental rights lawyers who take diversity, inclusion and transformation seriously.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we leverage our expertise and commitment to fight for environmental justice for all. We take on the big environmental fights – high-stakes cases where we can empower local communities to defend their rights to a healthy environment, clean air and mitigate the impacts of climate change and set powerful precedents for other cases, and help improve policy and practice across the country.

Winning the legal case is only part of the battle. CER’s litigation work is strengthened by local empowerment, dedicated policy and advocacy work as well as strategic communications. We work closely with partners in affected communities and with other civil society and public interest law organisations particularly in the environmental and social justice sectors.

We work across the following core themes: Biodiversity, Mining, Water, Pollution and Climate Change, Corporate Accountability, and Activist Support and Training. Our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Staff who join our Johannesburg office are required to travel to our Cape Town office on a regular basis.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to: [email protected] with the email subject line: “CER Legal Researcher, Corporate Accountability”:

  • A cover letter setting out your skills and relevant experience, as well as why you want to work at the CER;
  • A copy of your CV;
  • Two recent written references.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. The CER reserves the right not to appoint should there be no suitable candidate.