Reporting to the Director, Research & Innovation Partnerships, the Research Contracts Associate/Legal Advisor provides leadership in the development and negotiation of contract relationships and agreements between academic researchers and research sponsors. The Research Contracts Associate/Legal Advisor is responsible for reviewing, negotiating, preparing and providing oversight for substantive research contracts, research agreements and/ or other research related agreements (such as non-disclosure, software licensing, data usage, data/material transfer, equipment transfer agreements) in Canadian and international settings for the University. Responsibilities include risk assessment, identification, negotiation and protection of the legal and financial rights and obligations of the University, its faculty members and graduate students. The Research Contracts Associate/Legal Advisor acts as a liaison between faculty researchers and the various sponsors of research agreements, such as governments, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, affiliated institutions and other universities. This position has a particular emphasis on negotiating industry-sponsored research agreements as well as clinical trial agreements, both industry-led and Investigator-initiated.
The Research Contracts Associate/Legal Advisor works with Faculties and Departments on the interpretation and application of relevant policies. Additionally, the incumbent works with the Research Contracts team and provides leadership, guidance and expertise to ensure the timely and effective negotiation and execution of all research contracts and agreements in accordance with the VP Research Portfolio performance plan and service objectives.
** Please note, the ability to work remotely within Canada is available for this opportunity***
- Lead the negotiation, management and execution of research contracts and agreements in all fields of applied sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, on behalf of the University through the facilitation of cooperative or collaborative research agreements as well as relationships between faculty researchers and industry and/ or government sponsors. Assist in the review of terms associated with grant applications as required.
- Ensure University policies and procedures are adhered to with particular attention to assessing risk associated with terms proposed by the sponsor and specific to ownership of intellectual property, publication restrictions, insurance protection, deliverables, budget and terms of payment, and indirect cost recovery. Working with Risk Management resources, develop procedures to ensure adherence to University Risk Management policies.
- Provide knowledgeable advice and assistance to the Director and faculty researchers (including project teams, research groups, centres, and institutes) regarding appropriate terms of contract and proposals for contract research, on contract interpretation, negotiations and strategies for risk mitigation and management.
- Communicate regularly with faculty researchers to seek their input and to keep them apprised of negotiations.
- Coordinate with the University commercialization managers to ensure contract terms are legally compatible with licensing strategies for pre-existing intellectual property.
- Negotiate with Canadian government authorities, solely or in collaboration with other universities, to obtain mutually acceptable contract instruments to fund university research. Negotiate contracts and subcontracts with U.S. government funding agencies, seeking guidance as appropriate from Legal Counsel (Research Contracts) to ensure compliance with U.S. legislative requirements and regulations imposed on Canadian recipients of contract support.
- Manage on-going issues and/ or changes related to amendments and retain responsibility for the file during the project life-cycle.
- Work with the Director and other team members to ensure the timely review and approval of all research contracts and related agreements, in accordance with the VP Research Portfolio performance plan and service objectives.
- Engage in outreach to improve research contract review processes and outcomes for the stakeholders. Provide support to Legal Counsel (Research Contracts) in the planning and delivery of workshops to facilitate dialogue and provide training to Department Heads, faculty researchers, staff and Hospital-based Research Institutes to increase understanding of needs and requirements for research contracts/ agreements. Organize workshop logistics as needed.
- Support and lead, when appropriate, the goals of the Research Contracts team including identifying special policy initiatives or projects, renewing or developing template agreements, tracking and monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), benchmarking and recommending initiatives to improve work process efficiencies as well as timeliness of service, all the while maintaining the robustness of agreements negotiated on behalf of the University.
- Engage in activities of a professional development nature, including joining local and national organizations concerned with contract research management, intellectual property and technology licensing, and attending meetings, seminars and conferences where appropriate, to maintain detailed knowledge of relevant legislation, policies and sponsoring agency programs and requirements.
- Coordinate and collaborate with other University lawyers, external counsel and non-legal University personnel, as necessary, to drive analysis and creative resolution of relevant legal and policy issues.
- Fulfill other duties as required.
- Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) or Juris Doctor (J.D.) required; eligibility to practice law in Canada preferred.
- 5 years of demonstrated work experience leading the negotiation and execution of complex agreements, preferably related to research within a related industry and/or not-for-profit environment. Previous experience negotiating university research contracts and-or clinical trial agreements is considered to be an asset.
- Demonstrated knowledge and strong understanding of university, hospital, government (Canadian and US funding agencies), and corporate policies and procedures related to intellectual property, publications, controlled goods, overhead, and eligible costs is required, as is an understanding of relevant Canadian and US legislation and their application within a research environment, including Canadian privacy legislation, Canadian and U.S. export control laws and U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulations.
- Consideration may be given to an equivalent combination of education and experience.
- Strong negotiation and problem solving skills, as well as organization and time management abilities to manage high volumes of contract throughput and effectively multi-task to ensure goals and deadlines are met.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, combined with effective presentation skills to provide updates, deliver presentations and facilitate training.
- Effective ability to provide guidance based on subject-matter expertise in contract/ administrative law, standard government or industry terms and potential risks arising from contract agreements.
- Demonstrated capability to cultivate and maintain positive relationships with internal and external stakeholders, handle issues with tact, discretion, diplomacy and provide practical insight to manage confidential or sensitive matters in a professional manner.
- Self-motivated, results-driven and able to work on own, simultaneously contributing as a team member to the group’s goals and metrics.
- Ability to demonstrate a high level of integrity and commitment to good governance practices, combined with dependability and strong sense of urgency.
- Ability to think critically and proactively about business needs and risks, tailor advice accordingly, and provide quality recommendations to meet the needs of the University and researcher.
- Strong aptitude for detail and accuracy, combined with an advanced ability to draft, review and negotiate agreements to manage risk, comply with University policies and expedite execution, while maximizing benefits to the institution.
- Ability to professionally, and comfortably, interact with researchers and sponsor representatives.
- Facilitate complex decision-making process and activities, leveraging all identified participants and stakeholders.
- Determine type and level of information needed by management/ researchers to support decision-making, and if or when escalation is needed.
- Assess and ensure the University’s ability to comply, on a preliminary basis, with the terms and conditions specified in the contract or agreement. Make decisions about the acceptability of clauses and conditions contained within documents. Negotiate preferable alternatives and identify policy issues and/ or risk for the University, and consult with signatory so items may be resolved prior to acceptance of the agreement.
- Manage risk and minimize loss to the University by undertaking a detailed risk/benefit analysis relating to the compliance of all parties to the terms and conditions specified in a signed agreement or contract.
- Assess and determine if the terms and conditions of a proposed research contract and/ or related agreements should be recommended for signature.
- Make decisions on completeness of all related process tasks aligned with portfolio and unit priorities.
- Set and direct own work, ensuring task due dates are aligned with portfolio and unit priorities and/ or deadlines.
- Determine appropriate learning strategy when developing training documents or delivering training programs.