The Research Contracts Unit within the Office of Partnerships and Innovation reviews over 1,200 new and amended research, partnership and innovation-related agreements annually for faculty researchers at the University and affiliated Hospitals. Reporting to the Legal Counsel (Research Contracts), the Research Contracts Paralegal is responsible for providing legal support services to the Research Contracts lawyers as they assist faculty researchers in negotiating and administering contracts for general and clinical research activities. The Research Contracts Paralegal reviews, revises, negotiates and finalizes non-complex agreements in accordance with established templates and guidelines and proactively handles routine contractual matters through to final signature completion, escalating complex issues to the Team Lead, Legal Advisors, and Legal Counsel. This position provides feedback to researchers and interacts with external parties regarding the terms of research agreements according to Queen’s policies and external regulations.
- Reviews non-complex agreements, including but not limited to Non-disclosure and confidentiality, material transfer, and data sharing agreements and contract amendments, with a view to assessing institutional risk and ensuring compliance is achieved with university policies and the terms and policies of related funding agencies.
- Prepares a summary of legal requirements and required changes as needed for feedback from Legal Counsel, Legal Advisor or the Director as well as the parties or other stakeholders.
- Requests and negotiates approved changes to agreements with external parties on behalf of Queen’s; ensures support of specific research needs (Risk, Research Ethics Board, privacy etc.); where applicable, consults with any of Team Lead, Legal Advisors, Legal Counsel or Director regarding changes to the clauses and escalates difficult or problematic contractual issues. Provides review status reports to the Research Contracts team as requested.
- Act as a liaison regarding contract matters and discusses revisions with researchers, research assistants, ethics office, other department personnel, external agencies, contract negotiators, and researchers and their assistants at other institutions to resolve contract issues.
- Ensures researchers have completed all compliance documentation, as required, for applicable agreements, identifying outstanding documentation and coordinates with the researcher or their assistants to obtain documents.
- Provides information and guidance to University and Hospital administrators and faculty researchers on navigating the research contracts process, general policies and procedures pertaining to research agreement administration at Queen’s University and regarding external regulations and compliance issues.
- Reviews research agreement budget description and study budgets to ensure they are complete and comply with University policies, including eligible expenses and indirect costs. Refers complex budget concerns to applicable department or faculty. Consults and collaborates with Research Accounting, Financial Services on budget related issues.
- Follows up on pending deadlines to facilitate timely review completion; submits final negotiated agreements for institutional signature approval.
- Promote a positive and inclusive work environment that supports and promotes a culture where a diverse range of ideas and perspectives are incorporated into decision-making.
- Undertakes other duties and special projects as required in support of the Research Contracts Unit.
- College Diploma certificate in a Paralegal Program, recognized by the Law Society of Ontario.
- Hold a license in good standing from the Law Society of Ontario to work as a paralegal in Ontario.
- Several years (3-5 minimum) of practical experience in reviewing and negotiating contracts.
- Demonstrated successful work experience in research agreement negotiation or research processes and administration in an academic environment is considered an asset and preferred.
- Ability to demonstrate sound use of and familiarity with legal terminology, language and vocabulary.
- Familiarity with clinical trial, industry or government funded agreements and the Queen’s research community is considered an asset.
- Knowledge of university structure, procedures, policies, and regulations is considered an asset.
- Consideration may be given to an equivalent combination of education and work experience.
- High standard of professional conduct, ethics and discretion in dealing with highly confidential and sensitive information, and high-risk institutional agreements in an appropriate manner.
- Ability to support a workplace that embraces diversity, encourages teamwork, and complies with all applicable and regulatory requirements.
- Excellent client service orientation, with strong interpersonal and relationship building skills to foster positive, collaborative, and inclusive working relationships with a range of client groups, legal professionals, senior leaders and other stakeholders at multiple levels both on and off campus. Ability to work through situations of potential conflict.
- Strong problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical skills and exceptional attention to detail is crucial. Ability to identify and minimize potential risks to the institution.
- Knowledge of principles and methods of research administration.
- Knowledge of applicable legislation and acts, regulations and compliance governing human research (e.g. PHIPA, HIPPAA, GDPR, Health Canada regulations, Tri-Council Policy Statement).
- Excellent communication skills (oral and written), tact, diplomacy and sound judgment to interact with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders.
- Ability to analyze legal documents and to explain their meaning in non-technical terms.
- Ability to quickly develop sound knowledge of University, Hospital and government policies relating to research administration, with general resourcefulness and an ability to quickly find, learn, and assimilate new information.
- Well-developed computer skills are essential, proficiency in the use of the Microsoft Office suite of applications, Adobe Acrobat Professional, electronic systems for managing information and related software combined with an ability to learn new applications quickly.
- Self-starter and highly motivated to meet the challenges within a complex academic research environment with strong organizational skills. Ability to take ownership, drive deliverables, multitask and prioritize competing demands while working under constant time pressures and deadlines.
- Ability to work independently, or as part of a team and participate in team meetings.
- Prioritize own time to ensure all assigned work and deadline commitments are met.
- Using basic knowledge of applicable legislation and acts, regulations as well as compliance governing research; principles and methods of research administration and experience, identify issues requiring review by Legal Advisor/Legal Counsel/Director.
- Determine appropriate response to queries from researchers and external agencies regarding the interpretation of research agreements. Assess and decide when new information calls for further actions such as distribution and verification, and when to refer issues to Legal Advisor/Legal Counsel/Director.
- Identify issues, omissions and/or errors, and determine if wording in agreements requires modification.
- Decide when agreements are ready to be submitted for signature approval.