83909 - Head of External Communications at the Legal Aid Agency (LAA)

The national salary range is £54,358 - £61,585, London salary range is £58,847 - £66,670. Your salary will be dependent on your base location
12 Months
Grade 7
Grade 7
Full Time, Flexible Working
Communications / Marketing

Job Title:          Head of External Communications

Grade:                Band 7

Location:          Flexible

Working Pattern: We support smarter working (this includes colleagues who work flexibly).

Department:   Corporate Services

Reports to:      MoJ Deputy Head of Strategic Communications


The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is one of the largest government organisations with more than 80,000 staff in offices, courts and prisons across the country. The organisation works together to bring the principles of justice to life for everyone in society, through a focus on delivery swift access to justice; protecting the public; and reducing reoffending.

The Head of External Communications of the LAA reports into the award-winning Strategic Communications & Campaigns team that sits within the Ministry’s Policy, Communications and Analysis Directorate. We pride ourselves on having a great team culture and a focus on innovation and making a difference in people’s lives. Being part of this communications community enables this role to benefit from wider strategic oversight and utilise the expertise in Strategic Communications, External Affairs and Campaigns, offering support when required.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is an executive agency of the MoJ with offices across England and Wales. Our role is to provide civil and criminal legal aid and advice to help people deal with their legal problems. Our 1,250 staff in 15 offices across the UK are responsible for operationally administering a £1.7billion fund to ensure legal aid services are available to the general public, reviewing applications and bills, managing tender processes, and working with MoJ policy teams to implement operational changes to the legal aid scheme. 

The LAA has a complex and vocal stakeholder landscape including our contracted legal aid providers, the Independent Bar, professional representative bodies, Members of Parliament, the press and public, other government departments and legal lobby groups. Our largest stakeholder group are the legal representative bodies and firms who make up a legal aid market of approximately 20,000 lawyers and paralegals across England and Wales, ranging from single person high street firms to FT500 legal practices and top criminal barristers. We work very closely with MoJ policy teams and wider MoJ agencies and bodies in the development and delivery of legal aid.


This is an exciting opportunity for an exceptional leader and ambitious communications professional in a wide-ranging and dynamic role. As Head of External Communications, you will report into the Head of the Chief Executive’s Office and have a close working relationship with colleagues across the Agency and wider Department. This includes the LAA’s Executive Leadership Team and Senior Leadership Group, LAA subject matter experts and MoJ Legal Aid Policy, MoJ Comms and Press Office colleagues.

As Head of External Communications you will provide the Agency with communications expertise, leadership and support across all areas of work. This includes: representing and defending the Agency’s interests with stakeholders, responding to high profile press queries, supporting major change programmes, advising operational customer service, and providing high quality stakeholder relationship oversight, analysis and response. In addition, you will be responsible for managing external channels and advising staff on all external communications handling.

You will lead a team working with colleagues across the Agency to deliver a renewed focus on stakeholder relationship management oversight and coordination. In addition, you will deliver a range of services and products from providing advice to the Chief Executive about high profile cases in the media and working with internal customers to create effective communications handling plans and campaigns that support the implementation of operational change, to leading on incident and contingency communications and developing the way in which we engage with and strengthen our relationships with our external stakeholders.

You will be responsible for the creation and delivery of an external communications strategy which meets user needs, enhances the reputation of the LAA and identifies issues and opportunities across the Agency and addresses them with creative communications products.

You will inspire External Comms colleagues to deliver high-quality communications products which engage our stakeholders, support our corporate objectives, enhance Agency reputation and are robustly evaluated.

You will support colleagues responding to MoJ Press Office queries, working in a highly reactive and fast-paced manner across Agency and MoJ boundaries to defend and enhance the LAA’s reputation, whilst ensuring the decision-making independence of the Director of Legal Aid Casework and legal rules around disclosing information are robustly maintained and protected.

You will work closely with ELT, the Senior Leadership Group and the Head of the Chief Executive’s Office to develop the Agency's stakeholder engagement strategy. Your team will bring together insight from across the business and wider MoJ colleagues to inform and develop how we optimise interactions with our stakeholders and how we can work with them in a more supportive and positive manner.

Core Responsibilities

  • Own and set direction for the development and delivery of the LAA's insight-led external communications and stakeholder engagement strategy, taking responsibility to ensure all activities reflect and support Agency and MoJ priorities as well as wider Government policies.
  • Provide timely, clear and decisive communications advice as required to the Chief Executive, Director of Legal Aid Casework, Executive Team and Senior Leadership Group, recommending the most effective options whilst balancing risks with the opportunities to support the Agency's objectives and enhance its reputation.
  • Lead the development and implementation of an internal client commissioning process across directorates, working closely with Deputy Directors to professionalise the comms service offering and implementing a process to better support business needs.
  • Inspire and shape the External Communications Team as an inclusive, high-performing and innovative team. Foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring team members understand their roles and responsibilities and are able to take advantage of training and development opportunities which enhance the capability of the team and organisation.
  • Responsible for the critical assessment and management of a highly effective suite of communication channels for the agency. Embed a culture of vigorous evaluation and effective monitoring of products and channels, taking action to improve where necessary. Implement a regular feedback process to the business which demonstrates the effectiveness of the team's output.
  • Forge strong, collaborative relationships with MoJ External Affairs, Strategic Comms and Press Office colleagues to enable timely handling advice in a fast-paced environment. Champion the Agency's reputation, whilst maintaining and educating others on the Director of Legal Aid Casework's decision-making independence and protecting the information required of the LAA.
  • Work in partnership with the Head of Internal Communications and the LAA internal communications team to identify areas of mutual interest and opportunities for collaborative working.
  • You will have an appreciation of the importance of insight and evaluation in delivering effective communications and a proven track record of using insight to inform decision making and to show impact. You will consistently evaluate the impact of your implemented strategy and adjust as required.

Skills and Experience

We’re looking for an ambitious and experienced senior strategic communications expert, with proven experience in stakeholder management, who can develop and drive delivery of a proactive communications strategy. You'll be an independent self-starter, confident in setting strategic direction, analytical and persuasively enthusiastic about business improvement.

You’ll be at ease across a wide range of communications disciplines, including media, campaigns, digital, external affairs, internal and corporate communications.

This role requires someone who is able to operate strategically and with autonomy across a complex landscape, is passionate about opportunities to drive outcomes through communications and is able to deliver in a fast-paced environment.

Essential Skills

  • Proven experience in leading a cohesive and coordinated stakeholder engagement strategy;  
  • Evidence of expertise in leading the development of strategic comms handling plans in complex operational settings;
  • Strong track record leading successful communication campaigns for a range of internal & external audiences;
  • Proven ability to work with experts to provide briefings and strategic communications advice to senior stakeholders;
  • Strong and demonstrable knowledge of digital communications and evaluation;
  • Knowledge and experience of using multiple channels to engage audiences;
  • Experience of handling reactive enquiries in a fast paced and challenging communications environment;
  • Ability to work collaboratively with internal teams, partner agencies and organisations whilst maintaining integrity of LAA’s independent decision-making.
  • Forge strong relationships and become a trusted advisor to colleagues at all grades throughout the organisation.
  • Advise senior leaders on communications strategy, making decisions and plans based on insight and evaluation.
  • Have creative ideas and ability to deliver outstanding content.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of communications to ensure we are always improving.
  • Play a role in leadership of the team, ensuring our work is effective and innovative.

Desirable skills

  • First-hand public sector experience and an understanding of the respective remits of civil servants and ministers. Equally, an understanding of the differing remits of central government policy making functions and operational implementation organisations i.e. ALBs and Executive Agencies etc.

Working Arrangements & Further Information

The MoJ offers Hybrid Working arrangements where business need allows. This is an informal, non-contractual form of flexible working that blends working from your base location, different MoJ sites and / or from home (please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas). Some roles will not be suitable for Hybrid Working. Similarly, Hybrid Working will not suit everyone’s circumstances. Arrangements will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) and subject to regular review.

For nationally advertised roles, the successful candidate(s) will be appointed to a MoJ office location, which may include their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on 'modernised' terms in their current post or onto 'unmodernised' MoJ terms if they are on 'unmodernised' terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

MoJ candidates who are on a specialist grade, will be able to retain their grade on lateral transfer.

All candidates who are currently in receipt of Mark Time / Pay Protection should ensure they are familiar with the new policy on permanent and temporary promotion which can be found on the employee intranet.

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices.


The MoJ offers a range of benefits:

Annual Leave

Annual leave is 25 days on appointment and will increase to 30 days after five years’ service.

There is also a scheme to allow qualifying staff to buy or sell up to three days leave each year. Additional paid time off for public holidays and 1 privilege day. Leave for part-time and job share posts will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.


The Civil Service offers a choice of pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.


The Ministry of Justice is committed to staff development and offers an extensive range of training and development opportunities.


The opportunity to join employee-run networks that have been established to provide advice and support and to enable the views of employees from minority groups to be expressed direct to senior management. There are currently networks for employees of minority ethnic origin, employees with disabilities, employees with caring responsibilities, women employees, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.


  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on GOV.UK or Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.

Expected week commencing 19/02/2024

16/02/2024, 23:55 hours.

If you require any assistance please call 0345 241 5359 (Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm) or e mail Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com Please quote the job reference - 83909.
Security Clearance (SC)

To apply for roles in MOJ you will need to confirm your employment history for at least 3 years prior to the date of application so that pre-employment checks (BPSS) can be undertaken. If you have spent significant time abroad (a total of 6 months in the past 3 years) you would be required to give a reasonable account of the reasons why. 

For some roles you will be required to successfully complete National Security Vetting at Counter Terrorism (CTC), Security Clearance (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV) level as a condition of appointment. To meet CTC/SC/DV requirements you will normally need to have been resident in the UK for at least 3/5/10 years prior to the date of application (The level of checks that are required are stated in the advert).

If you do not meet the above requirements, you may still be considered if, for example:

  • You've been serving overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of HM Government
  • You were studying abroad
  • You were living overseas with parents

In such cases you will need to be able to provide referee cover for the period(s) of residence overseas. The duration of overseas residence and the country of abode will also be taken into account.

Success Profiles will enable a fairer and more inclusive method of recruitment by enabling us to assess the range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles. This flexible approach to recruitment focuses more on finding the right candidate for the specific role. To find out more about Success Profiles to support your application please click here for further guidance.

if you feel that your application has not been treated in line with the Civil Service Recruitment Principles, please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com) in the first instance

We have provided detail of the assessment stages and areas being assessed to help you prepare for completing your application form, and to advise of what will be assessed following this, if you successfully pass the application stage.

Application form stage assessments

Changing and Improving - 500 word limit
Communicating and Influencing - 500 word limit
Working Together - 500 word limit
Seeing the Big Picture - 500 word limit

Interview stage assessments

There is 1 interview stage for this vacancy.
Changing and Improving
Communicating and Influencing
Working Together
Seeing the Big Picture
Strengths may also be assessed at interview but these are not shared in advance.
Additional Assessment(s)

A Great Place to Work for Veterans

The "Making the Civil Service a Great Place to work for veterans" initiative includes a guaranteed interview scheme to those who meet the minimum criteria to provide eligible former members of the Armed Forces with opportunities to secure rewarding jobs. Allowing veterans to continue to serve their country, and to bring highly skilled individuals with a broad range of experience into the Civil Service in an environment, which recognises and values your previous service in the Armed Forces.
For further details about the initiative and eligibility requirements visit : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/making-the-civil-service-a-great-place-to-work-for-veterans

Redeployment Interview Scheme

Civil Service departments are expected to explore redeployment opportunities before making an individual redundant. The MoJ are committed, as part of the Redeployment Interview Scheme, to providing opportunities to those who are 'at risk of redundancy'.

MoJ are able to offer an interview to eligible candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns. Candidate's will not be eligible for the Redeployment Interview Scheme if they are applying on promotion.

The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment.

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

· UK nationals

· nationals of the Republic of Ireland

· nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

· individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020

· Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nationality-rules

This Vacancy is closed to applications.