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City Solicitor and Director of Human Resources At City of Markham

Location: Markham, Ontario

Job Description

The City of Markham, a high growth municipality with more than 350,000 residents, centrally located in the Greater Toronto Area, is home to over 400 corporate head offices and 1,100 high tech and life science companies. Founded in the 1790’s, Markham is Canada’s most diverse community and enjoys a rich heritage, outstanding community planning and services, and a vibrant local economy. With an unwavering focus on quality, innovation and professional excellence, the City of Markham is working closely with its diverse and dynamic community to grow and enhance its reputation for municipal leadership, public service excellence and innovation. Join us and make a difference as a senior leader.

Expression of Interest

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact WMC directly. Any communication and information received will be treated confidentially. Please call or email your resume to Graham Herbert, 416-362-6863 x 228.


The City of Markham is seeking a seasoned legal leader for the unique dual leadership role of chief legal counsel and chief human resources officer. The two divisions of Legal Services and Human Resources provide comprehensive, objective, sound and strategic advice, planning, solutions and services related to both the legal interests and the human capital of the City and its boards, agencies and entities as well as to the Mayor and Council in a responsive manner.

Reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer and a member of the City’s executive leadership team, the City Solicitor and Director of Human Resources is responsible for providing leadership, strategic direction and oversight to both the Legal Services and Human Resources divisions and facilitates an environment of integrity, client partnership, team work, shared and continuous learning, business acumen and service excellence.

As City Solicitor, this position oversees and ensures collaboration to provide sound and timely advice and business solutions on a variety of complex legal issues primarily in the areas of planning and development law, in addition to municipal law, real estate, administrative, enforcement and employment law working with a team of in house lawyers and as needed, external counsel. This position provides direction to lawyers appearing before all levels of court and tribunals and also ensures the development of the in-house legal team, specialists and support staff.

As Director of Human Resources, this position, in consultation with key stakeholders, drives and oversees the City’s people strategy relating to approximately 3,000 Non Union, union, seasonal and part time staff in the areas of employee and labour relations, collective bargaining, recruitment and staffing, staff development, workforce and succession planning, health and safety and wellness, total rewards (compensation, benefits and recognition), diversity and inclusion.

The role requires proven success as a senior legal advisor to governing bodies and in business unit administration, with extensive experience in planning and development law as well as municipal law, and as a strategic leader in modernizing legal practices and ensuring a responsive service culture in public, private or not for profit sectors. It also requires proven results in building and sustaining collaborative, respectful and effective stakeholder relationships both within and outside of the organization, high political acuity and the ability to balance business enabling solutions and services with compliance with legal, legislative and policy frameworks and fiscal responsibility.


Specific accountabilities include the following:

1. Legal and HR advice and counsel to Mayor and Council

Provide objective, non-partisan, strategic advice and decision support to Council on legal and human resource related initiatives (identify business and legal risks, impacts, opportunities) and support contentious file management as and when issues arise. This requires clear understanding of the governing role of the Council, the changing political landscape, the evolution of practice across a wide range of municipal, planning and development, and human resources issues(at all levels of government which impact municipalities and the City), discipline in due diligence and judgement in making sound recommendations to support decision making. Trust, discretion and responsiveness is critical to bringing forward recommended solutions in a timely manner. This also requires courage and judgement to provide objective counsel about the legal implications and impacts/consequences of policy issues and actions.

2. Legal and HR counsel, advice, direction and services to senior management and business divisions, agencies and corporations

Provide strategic insight and oversight of the delivery of legal and human resources advice, counsel and services to the City management and City agencies through the Legal Services and HR Divisions. This includes effective management of the demand and supply of third-party service providers for legal and human resource files which require external counsel, representing the client voice on direction, and liaising with management and Council to ensure effective file management. This leadership role is responsible for setting the City’s people strategy and for keeping City management and staff up to date on changes in laws, legislation, regulations and best practices, assessing the impact on the City and assisting management in developing positions and solutions on such changes.

3. Partnerships with all stakeholders

Build credibility and trust with Mayor and Council, City management, and externally with business and community stakeholders; consult, partner and provide sound, knowledgeable and objective advice across a wide portfolio of municipal law, planning and development law and human resources matters.

4. Set the overall strategic direction of the Legal and HR divisions

Establish Legal and HR division goals, policies and short and long-term objectives that are consistent with the overall directions and priorities of the City. This involves developing business plans, operating budgets and financial plans to address current and future financial considerations, while maintaining a high quality of strategic, operational and service support to Council and management. For the Human Resources portfolio, play a leadership role in evolving and sustaining the City’s people strategy goals for the organization and support a healthy, inclusive and effective work environment so employees are positioned to provide value for tax dollar services to the citizens and businesses of Markham, and ensure positive and productive employee and labour relations across the organization.

5. Legal and HR department leadership, business model and culture

While protecting the City’s interests and rights and sustaining the high quality of advice and services, this role will enhance the provision of efficient and effective solution-focused business advice and service delivery in support of the City’s business strategies and goals through modern best practices, leveraging of technology, ensuring fiscal responsibility and the capability of the talent within the departments. It requires sustaining the culture of collaborative and engaged employees aligned around the City’s direction and best practices, service excellence and accountability and creating positive stakeholder relationships; advancing high professional and ethical standards; and adherence to legal regulations and City standards.

6. Professional practice development

Enhance and sustain legal and human resources professional and practice knowledge and expertise to continuously grow knowledge-based delivery of advice, solutions and services, and source to external counsel, consultants and vendors as required.


The successful candidate will have;

1. A 10-year track record at a senior management level as a visible collaborative and business-oriented practice leader, with a passion for serving the community / stakeholders / internal clients within an urban city or region or other large complex diversified organization. This could be in the public, private or not for profit sectors with the complexity, diversity, opportunities, and challenges similar to the City. Experience in a combination of public and private sector roles, or operations experience as a senior level “customer facing” executive would also be considered.

2. A Law degree, licensed to practice in Ontario, and a member in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario.

3. Solid knowledge, skill base and experience across a broad base of municipal and planning law and development including a thorough understanding of complex development issues in a growth municipality, within the current provincial climate of significant legislative changes, and with the development industry.

4. Business or public administration, or labour relations qualifications would be an asset.

5. A proven track record of building and maintaining high performing teams who are engaged in their work and the organization as a whole.

6. A high level of integrity, discretion, trustworthiness and ethical conduct, non-partisan behaviour, with strong business and financial acumen; excellent communications and interpersonal skills.

7. Demonstrated servant-leader approach which is principle-based and is objective, integrative, facilitative, collaborative and team based, while also being outcome focused. Past success has also been due to demonstrated openness, objectivity and transparency, and the ability to build respectful relationships and high levels of personal accountability.

8. A focus on results and action, with proven experience as a learning-oriented leader and facilitator of positive cultural change, building teams and fostering employee retention and engagement, while ensuring accountability and achievement of agreed results is a pre-requisite for success.

9. Experience with diverse and dynamic communities and stakeholders with a strong understanding of political and corporate issues, and ability to operate in a complex, public sector environment with a high degree of political acuity. Sound understanding of municipal, regional, provincial and federal policies and law and people management practices as it relates to local

10. Demonstrated success in developing strong and effective working partnerships, rapport and relationships with senior leaders, governance boards, stakeholders, councils, and all levels of employees no matter what the complexities and challenges are, and capability to provide timely and thorough issue analysis related to strategy and operational issues.

11. Excellent influencing and communications skills, a people person who enjoys engaging clients and employees and diverse stakeholders. Ability to communicate in an articulate, compelling and engaging manner, a strong interest in having a visible presence with stakeholders, to ensure understanding of issues, and an ability to be responsive to escalated issues and manage expectations.

12. Demonstrated pragmatism required to organize and deliver advice and services, execute on plans through development of clear and integrated objectives, business plans, governance structures, organizational systems, methods, and processes which hold staff accountable and support the effective and efficient delivery of strategy and services.

13. Business management and financial acumen, reflecting strong financial and budgetary management knowledge and capability to manage two business service departments of up to 40 employees and third-party providers as required.

The City of Markham is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to inclusive, barrier-free recruitment and selection processes and work environments. Please advise WMC of accommodations needed to ensure you have access to a fair and equitable process. The City of Markham offers competitive compensation along with a benefits plan, pension plan and professional development.

Expression of Interest

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact WMC directly. Any communication and information received will be treated confidentially. Please call or email your resume to Graham Herbert, 416-362-6863 x 228.