• Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • La Jolla, CA 920371002, USA
  • Oct 13, 2021
Full time Legal Affairs

Job Description


Application Instructions:

Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all positions (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.


In accordance with the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics, the ombuds provides confidential, independent, impartial, neutral, informal dispute resolution and resource services for the Salk internal community. The incumbent works to facilitate communication and assist parties in reaching mutually acceptable agreement and to find fair and equitable resolutions to concerns that arise at the Institute. The ombuds function is a resource available to all faculty, staff, postdoctoral trainees and students who seek guidance to approach and resolve academic and/or administrative issues and disputes.

The ombuds functions independently with respect to case handling and issue management and reports to the Office of the Chief Science Officer for administrative and budgetary purposes but does not discuss the substance of visitor interactions. The ombuds is a neutral, informal resource that supplements, but does not replace, other Salk departments, functions or processes.

Without disclosing confidential communications, the ombuds reports general trends, provides feedback throughout Salk and may advocate for structural changes as appropriate.  The incumbent may also develop and conduct training and education in coordination with other functions.

Overall goals include but may not be limited to increasing access to policies and other resources minimizing complaints, resolving conflicts early and through alternative mean, to ensure a positive research, working and training environment for all members of the Salk community.

The incumbent is likely to have access to confidential information as employees and trainees raise issues with the Ombuds which may include but may not be limited to: legal, regulatory, compliance, safety, security or personnel matters, funding, financial or fundraising matters, etc.  The maintenance of absolute confidentiality and adherence to the International Ombudsman Association Professional Standards that provide the foundation for this function at Salk is required.


Dispute Resolution - 50%

  • Consults about a wide range of complaints and concerns from staff, faculty, trainees (post docs and students) administrative and other scientific personnel.
  • Ensures adherence to the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics. Encourages and models ethical behavior and best practices in Salk administrative practices and procedures through the types of recommendations made and the approach to dispute resolution.
  • Works with members of all constituencies to clarify issues and explain options available for the resolution of complaints.  Obtains and confidentially maintains information from Institute departments as needed to learn about circumstances relevant to visitor concerns. 
  • Assists lab and department personnel to identify and resolve concerns and problems which may include additional fact finding. Makes recommendations/steps aimed at successful issue resolution in a manner that is solution-oriented and not intimidating.
  • Acts as a liaison between individuals and/or groups by serving as advisor, facilitator or mediator upon request.

Functional Management - 20%

  • Establishes and operates the ombuds office consistent with professional ombuds practice (charter, standards of communication, confidentiality, etc.) per the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics.  Maintains active membership in the IOA and applies resources, training and best practices to Salk.
  • Develops and maintains confidential notes in accordance with the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics.and broad statistical data for the purpose of identifying trends in complaints and concerns; identifies problem areas in Institute policies and practices.
  • Manages the preparation, oversight and submission of the annual ombuds report to senior administration and the Salk community and advises the executive and faculty leadership teams about issues, trends or policies.

Education, Training & Outreach - 15%

  • Develops and conducts training and information sessions for the Salk community about the ombuds office, its role and approach to conflict resolution.
  • Develops and maintains publications (brochures, bookmarks, web site) that inform the Salk community about the Ombuds office and its services.
  • Maintains regular relationships with labs and departments and their employees and trainees to promote early and optimal conflict resolution.
  • Consults with appropriate legal counsel regarding legal issues that may arise during the course of reviewing complaints, and/or assessing legal issues that may arise related to the ombuds.
  • Consults and maintains contact with other ombuds, attorneys and conflict resolution professionals to continually develop and advance the ombuds office and ensure its operation within the highest professional standards and to further enhance its vitality at Salk.
  • Participates in appropriate training, professional development, networking and self-education to ensure knowledge of the field and state and national resources related to processes, trends, and issues in academia and within the ombuds profession.

Reporting, Policy Analysis and Recommendations for Change - 15%

  • Advises senior management on matters concerning functional areas, department and / or visitors. Serves Salk as an internal consultant, facilitating and enhancing communication throughout the Institute.
  • Maintains a pulse on the Salk community, using both data and observation to identify and report on problems or trends that may require action.
  • Makes appropriate recommendations on policy development and to modify policies, practices or procedures designed to reduce or eliminate recurring problems. Works collaboratively with other offices and individuals whose responsibilities include risk management, legal or policy analysis or dispute resolution. Serves as a resource for the formulation of policies and procedures, raising issues that indicate where there may be discrepancies between organizational goals and actual practice.
  • Reviews policy content related to individual complaints and investigates issues raised on how parties interpret policy. Based on a working knowledge of policies and procedures, educates constituents about the interpretation of policies and procedures affecting them.
  • Gives input to members of the Office of Equity & Inclusion, Human Resources, the Postdoctoral Affairs Office and others for change and improvement in the organizational climate and structure to remedy actual or perceived inequities. 
  • Advises on where adjustments in resources and practices would help potentially reduce complaints or conflicts amongst personnel at Salk.
  • Presents recommendations to senior leadership pertaining to policy and/or programmatic/procedural changes based on patterns and/or systemic issues emerging from ombuds cases.
  • Monitors implementation of accepted recommendations by routinely checking with management and complainants to determine that changes have been made.  Reports back in a structured manner about the impact of those changes (as feasible).



  • Masters' degree in conflict resolution, alternative dispute resolution, or related and relevant field, Juris Doctor, or equivalent combination of advanced education and experience.
  • Certifications through the International Ombudsperson Association desired upon hire but acceptable if obtained within the first six months of employment.



  • Minimum 10 years of relevant professional experience.  Experience must include combination of:
    • 5+ years as a senior level ombudsperson in a multi-person ombuds office with the readiness to run a solo ombuds office. Alternatively, 7+ years of prior experience as a solo ombudsperson.
    • 5+ years as a professional mediator, conflict resolution specialist, attorney with relevant conflict resolution experience, organizational development professional, or equivalent background/skill set for this role.
  • Experience establishing, setting up and implementing the vision, program direction, goals and objective for the Office of the Ombudsperson.
  • Advance knowledge and experience applying the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics.


  • Experience working in or with either an academic environment or other shared governance model where creative approaches have been applied successfully, and skill in developing spheres of influence has been demonstrated, is strongly preferred.
  • Prior mediation and alternative dispute resolution experience outside an ombuds function, is preferred.


  • Knowledge and skill in establishing, setting and implementing the vision, program direction, charter, and objectives for the Office of the Ombudsperson through the application of advanced knowledge and adherence to the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Codes of Ethics, particularly around neutrality, confidentiality and impartiality.
  • Expert interpersonal communication skills, including effective active listening skills, empathy and sensitivity. Skill at preparing and delivering effective written and oral presentations and conducting training in a manner that is designed to resonate with people at all levels of the organization.
  • Expert knowledge of conflict resolution and mediation techniques, methods and principles, and expert skill in developing and deploying effective options for conflict resolution.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective and cooperative working relationships with others regardless of title, position or other perceived barriers.
  • Ability to collect, evaluate, and interpret data to develop sound conclusions and make well-reasoned recommendations. Expertise in investigating and analyzing problems with broad impact and implications.
  • Ability to receive and retain confidential and sensitive information.
  • Skill in identifying systemic issues and recommend change; skill to work collaboratively to build and sustain highly effective and positive relationships at all organizational levels and promote systemic change.
  • Expert critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills to assess complex, sensitive, and controversial problems, situations, or procedures and devise creative solutions. Proven ability to set/apply metrics and report on them to different audiences.
  • Knowledge of liability and risk issues around harassment, discrimination, whistleblower laws, and other compliance-related issues.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the principles of due process, fairness and excellence. Ability to exercise independent judgment and prudence when dealing with sensitive, confidential matters.
  • Skilled in building trust with individuals at all organizational levels to establish and maintain productive working relationships. Ability to consider issues at a policy level and formulate creative recommendations for resolution. Ability to exercise independent judgment with respect to offering options and suggestions to complainants and others.
  • Knowledge pertaining to state and federal laws, resources, and individuals to consult about trends, and issues in the ombuds profession, alternative dispute resolution and higher education more broadly.
  • Must be able to self-manage, self-direct, and conduct appropriate follow up.
  • Intermediate to advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office products (PowerPoint, Word, Excel). 


  • Position is part-time, 20 hours per week.
  • No other position at Salk may be held concurrently with the ombudsperson role.
  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Successful completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • At times may be required to work an adjusted schedule to support operational needs.
  • Must be willing to sign an employee confidentiality agreement.


This position will be constantly hearing, seeing, sitting, talking,  analyzing, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing and working inside. 


Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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