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General Counsel, Allen Institute, Seattle, WA

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Harris Legal Search has been exclusively engaged by the Allen Institute to recruit a General Counsel.

Founded in 2003 by philanthropist Paul G. Allen, the Allen Institute is a nonprofit bioscience research institute composed of four scientific divisions:  the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Allen Institute for Cell Science, the Allen Institute for Immunology, and the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group.  The Institute seeks to further human knowledge of bioscience and improve human health. 

The mission of the Allen Institute administration teams, including Legal, is to provide support and structure to the scientific divisions.  The General Counsel is responsible for directing the Institute’s legal strategy while anticipating, managing, and reducing areas of legal and business risk.  The General Counsel must effectively exercise business judgment and evaluate risk in a business context while counseling the senior executive team, Board of Directors, and other stakeholders throughout the Institute.


The General Counsel manages all legal matters for the Allen Institute, including:

  • Provide strategic legal and business guidance to executive team on all legal matters impacting the Institute. Counsel stakeholders regarding managing and mitigating risk.
  • Advise on substantive legal areas, including corporate governance, contracts, nonprofit, employment, employee benefits, intellectual property, tax, regulatory compliance, and insurance.
  • Serve as management liaison for Nominating and Governance Committee of the Board, working with the Chair to manage the Committee’s responsibilities under its charter.
  • Perform all duties of the Corporate Secretary, including preparation for Board and committee meetings; attend and prepare minutes of all Board and committee meetings; maintain corporate documents; and facilitate Board education on corporate governance.
  • Manage the Enterprise Risk Management program and lead the Risk Management Team (facilitating meetings; managing regular cadence of risk assessments, priority projects for gaps, and health checks; and continuing to evolve the program.)
  • Participate in the Crisis Management Team, advising on effective crisis response.
  • Manage the property and liability insurance program, including the annual renewal.
  • Responsible for compliance activities related to ERISA and other employee benefits, tax, lobbying and political activity, and SEC reporting.
  • Attend and prepare minutes for 401(k) management committee meetings, advise committee on governance and legal requirements relating to the 401(k) plan, and train committee members annually on their fiduciary duties.
  • Provide leadership and guidance to ensure ethical and compliant activities and behavior, including participating in development of integrated compliance program throughout the organization.
  • Lead an intellectually curious, results-driven Legal team that enjoys creatively navigating its way through supporting a growing and evolving scientific research organization.
  • Foster a professional environment that provides for continuous learning and development, and attracts and retains diverse, best-in-class talent.
  • Manage overall department budgeting, resource allocation and recruitment, development and mentoring of legal talent.
  • Oversee selection, retention, management, and evaluation of all outside counsel; manage external counsel in all legal matters.
  • Determine the department’s strategic goals, working with Legal team to achieve these strategic goals, and manage the departmental budget.
  • Work closely with all departments and functions, providing recommendations and comprehensive legal and compliance support where needed.
  • Guide interdisciplinary teams and management on regulatory compliance, and provide timely and effective legal advice and risk guidance.
  • Provide risk management and mitigation counseling.

This role is temporarily eligible for remote work due to COVID-19 and the company’s focus on employee safety.  As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, this role will return to work onsite, so this hire will be expected to move to the Seattle area with relocation assistance.


  • 15+ years of experience as an in-house attorney in a leadership position.
  • Comfort advising on and managing a variety of legal areas, including corporate governance, contracts, strategic partnerships, intellectual property, nonprofit, employment, employee benefits, immigration, insurance, 501(3)(c) tax, and regulatory compliance (including clinical research protocol and privacy law).
  • Biotech industry experience preferred.
  • Nonprofit legal experience preferred.
  • Exceptional leadership and communication skills.
  • Collaborative team-oriented approach and proven track record of building strong, strategic relationships.
  • Ability to set high standards and encourage a culture of high performance, continuous learning, and commitment to quality.
  • Passion for the Allen Institute’s mission and values.


The Allen Institute is fiercely committed to solving some of the biggest mysteries of bioscience, researching the unknowns of human biology through studies of the brain, the human cell, and the immune system.  At the same time, they are pushing the frontiers of bioscience to continue to explore the edges of scientific discovery.

Scientists within each division collaborate in a team science approach, tackling ambitious big science projects.  Everything learned within their walls is shared publicly across the world through their dedication to open science.  Divisions include the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Allen Institute for Cell Science, the Allen Institute for Immunology, and the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group.

The researchers seek to understand how our brains, cells and immune systems work when we are healthy and, ultimately, how they go wrong in disease.  In the course of their studies, they have generated and shared atlases that map the brain, gene-edited stem cell lines, and many more publicly available resources that have been used by millions of scientists around the world to accelerate their research.

All this work is done to fulfill their founder Paul G. Allen’s vision for accelerating global progress towards improving health and lengthening human life.

The Allen Institute headquarters, completed in 2015, is at the heart of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, a hub for technology and biotechnology industry and research. The building was purpose-built for life science research and to facilitate collaboration. 

In addition, the Allen Institute believes that team science significantly benefits from the participation of diverse voices, experiences, and backgrounds. High-quality science can only be produced when it includes different perspectives.  They are committed to increasing diversity across every team and encourage people from all backgrounds to apply for this role.

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