General Counsel

Root Capital
Job Type
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Reports To: President/Chief Operating Officer
Job Type: Full time; US-based; Remote
Region: United States
Location: US-based; Remote
Start Date: Immediately
Contact: Please apply using the company site.
Salary: $190-220k/yearAbout Root Capital
Root Capital (Root) is a Non-Bank Financial Institution (NBFI) founded in 1999 as an NGO with a mission to support the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. Root’s clients, ranging from farmer cooperatives and associations to local processors and millers, purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, nuts, or grains from smallholder farmers and in most cases export those crops to global markets. Root supplies these traditionally under-served businesses with vital resources: access to capital and trade and technical partners, financial, management and other forms of capacity building training, and advice and support to enhance bankability, gender equity and opportunity, climate resilience, and youth employment. Root works in hard-to-serve geographies where others don’t go and serves clients whom the local financial institutions are reluctant to support. To date, Root has loaned over $1.8 billion to improve the lives of over ten million people in farming communities.Root has been a widely recognized pioneer in areas like bankability, access to finance, and gender equity, and is building on this success to enhance its focus on climate resilience and youth employment. Root takes pride in its rigorous monitoring and evaluation of projects, in learning from its experience, and in proactively seeking the input of its clients and counterparts to remain “global enough to matter, regional enough to act” with agility and creativity. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Root currently works in over fifteen countries in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and has associated offices in Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, and Kenya. Root’s global staff is 145 and growing rapidly to address our ambitious five-year strategy to both broaden and deepen our reach in our target agricultural communities.

Position Description
The General Counsel (the “GC”) reports to the President/COO and will oversee all legal matters arising at Root Capital, including corporate governance and advice to the Board of Directors, statutory reporting and compliance, legal advice and support to all Root departments and activities focusing on Root’s lending operations, negotiation with counterparties on key lending and partnership agreements, management of litigation and local counsel, and such other legal matters as may arise. It is expected that the legal department will consist of two attorneys, one of whom is the GC and the other (currently being recruited) will be a Senior Counsel for Latin America with a focus on lending transactions and other matters related to Root’s business in Latin America. The GC is a member of the senior management team, and will be expected to engage actively with corporate decision-making and strategic planning. The position may be remote, but the incumbent is expected to travel internationally to Root’s field offices up to 4 times per year, subject to emerging requirements.

The Opportunity
This is an opportunity for an experienced transactional lawyer to play a key role in shaping Root’s evolution as a thought and practice leader in addressing the needs of smallholder agricultural operations. Legal advice and support is a critical part of Root’ operations, and the ability to contribute proactively to shaping Root’s operations is a key qualification for this role. The successful candidate is expected to:

Bring extensive experience in financial legal practice, ideally in SME lending and international operations (especially in Latin America and/or Africa). The successful candidate will have extensive experience with lending operations, underwriting, intercreditor arrangements, and related financial matters, and will appreciate the challenges of working with local staff and SME clients in foreign jurisdictions to provide high quality, quick turn-around legal advice. Root’s primary financial product is trade finance, but we are expanding into other products to meet the needs of our clients. Although we expect to hire a Senior Counsel for Latin America, the GC will not have extensive legal staff and is the primary point of contact for all legal services. However, Root maintains strong relationships with well-known and highly regarded external counsel, some working pro bono and others retained for specific purposes. Experience with supporting staff and clients with varying degrees of legal understanding and the ability to interpret complex issues in ways which facilitate problem solving is critical.
Have an understanding of the legal issues which affect NBFIs and NGOs. Root, as an NBFI, is operating in a number of jurisdictions, with a base in the US. Our US status brings with it a number of reporting and compliance requirements which the GC is expected to manage. Fundraising is an important part of Root’s capital base, along with revenues derived from lending activities, and brings with it specific legal issues and reporting requirements. Root also manages a number of working relationships with donors and partners, including Federal agencies, documented in negotiated legal agreements. In addition to representing Root in development of these relationships, the GC is expected to be mindful that Root’s focus is on accountability for our operations to our clients, our staff, and our stakeholders. We are committed to best practices and to transparency in our operations.
Be pragmatic in seeking and interpreting local legal advice and weighing options. It is critical that Root’s GC have a solid, well-grounded appreciation for the legal challenges of operating in a wide range of legal regimes and reconciling US and local business and legal practices while maintaining a commitment to solid ethical practices, transparency, and accountability. Root is often faced with the challenges of determining the trade-offs involved in seeking legal remedies and practical solutions to matters like collections of defaulted debt, pursuit of legal remedies in local courts, drafting effective and comprehensible legal documentation, etc. The successful candidate will have experience navigating the challenges inherent in the environment in which Root operates.
Be collegial and able to work with and support non-legal staff in managing legal challenges. Root is a relatively small organization in which a close and effective working relationship across regions, cultures, departments, and priorities is essential. Experience working closely with non-legal staff in different international jurisdictions is highly desirable. Because of Root’s extensive Latin American portfolio, a working knowledge of Spanish is strongly preferred.
Be committed to Root’s mission and understand its operating principles. Root is a mission-driven organization, optimizing but not maximizing its financial returns and with a strong commitment to positive economic and social impact on our clients and the eco-system within which they operate. The successful candidate will understand and be committed to Root’s mission, and will be proactive in ensuring that our legal posture is in line with our commitment to best practice, high ethical standards, and a supportive and not exploitive relationship with our clients.
Enjoy the challenge of building a department and an organization. Root is still growing and evolving, and legal work is a key part of shaping what we do and how we do it. This is a job which will appeal to someone who has mastered the basics of the legal craft, but who sees the attraction of thinking out of the box, who enjoys operating where there are not always well trodden paths, who recognizes the challenges of the intersection between theory and real world practice, who can deal with a sometimes fast tempo, who feels comfortable operating without a big support staff, and who is happiest with a fair degree of unpredictability in the daily demands.
Ensure high quality legal advice and support for Root’s business activities across all departments
Provide effective “rapid response” legal advice for a range of operating issues, centered on but not limited to Root’s core lending activities, credit administration, HR, fund raising, and risk management
Develop, negotiate, review, and otherwise manage key legal documentation on Root’s behalf with a range of counterparties, including clients, partners, donors, public sector agencies, etc.
Advise on and support development of new financial and other products and services
Support Root’s risk assessment and risk management functions in relation to existing and new operational initiatives
Represent Root in all legal matters (including, but not limited to, as borrower, grantee, lender, counterparty, IP holder, and securities issuer)
Advise on and oversee pursuit of legal remedies in situations requiring Root to protect its operations
Manage and instruct pro bono and other outside counsel (US and foreign) as necessary and oversee litigation, both in the US and overseas
Provide advice and legal counsel to the CEO, the President/COO, and the Board of Directors on all legal matters relating to their official roles at Root
Develop and improve transactional processes and communications, including streamlined legal project communications with key stakeholders in the regions
Advise on crisis management and continuity of operations matters
Manage key legal workstreams and ensure Root’s compliance with required statutes, regulations, filings, etc.
Manage global legal resources, budget, and external communication strategy for the legal department
Generally promote a culture of legal responsibility and awareness
Authorization to work in the US
Membership in good standing with the relevant Bar Association
A minimum of 8 years of legal experience, with a significant track record of experience with lending and related financial operations
Understanding of the basic principles of US law and practice, including regulation, compliance, employment law, and commercial practice
Experience working with clients in an international setting, preferably in Latin America or Africa
Demonstrated ability to work with teams and clients not fully familiar with legal terms, processes, and requirements

More information about Root Capital is available at Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Candidates are encouraged to apply using the company site as soon as possible, making sure to include a resume and cover letter that describes your interest, qualifications, language abilities, and how you learned of the position. Finalist candidates will be required to provide at least three work-related references.

U.S applicants: Root Capital Inc. participates in E-Verify and will provide the federal government your I-9 information to confirm that you are authorized to work in the U.S. For more information, see here. Learn more about your right to work.

Root Capital provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, active military or veteran status, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, and breastfeeding and expressing breast milk), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Root Capital is committed to creating a dynamic work environment that upholds our leadership principles of empowerment, equity, integrity, service, and transparency.