PNC Legal, a niche consulting company, provides much needed expert independent advice and support at a time of considerable change in the legal profession.
Admitted as a solicitor over 30 years ago, founding director Tim Prior still holds a Practising Certificate although PNCR Legal is not a law firm. He has well over 25 years experience of professional negligence, professional indemnity insurance (PII), operational risk management (as it affects law firms and other professionals) and is a very experienced public speaker. He once completed 50 speaking engagements in six months throughout England and Wales, although he tends to be more selective these days in deciding which invitations to accept.
Tim was admitted as a solicitor in 1986 and has specialised in negligence and compliance issues since the late 1980s. The early 90s saw him training claims handlers at compulsory mutual insurer the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) on the avalanche of lenders' claims that ultimately proved SIF's downfall. Ever since, he has had a particular interest in mortgage fraud and, for the last few years, has written the chapter on this topic in Frances Silverman's Conveyancing Handbook. In recent years, the scope of the chapter has been widened to cover other property fraud issues such as cyber fraud. Drafting for the next edition starts in January.
After leaving SIF in 2000, he joined leading American commercial insurer Travelers Professional Risks with whom he worked as a senior risk management consultant in its PII team before setting up PNCR Legal in 2010. In recent years he has worked with firms of all sizes from niche sole practitioners to top 100 firms, advising them on their COLP and COFA obligations, wider risk management issues and professional indemnity matters, sharing the benefit of his experience through consultancy, seminars, webinars and workshops. He also completes risk and file audits and wider compliance planning, coverage disputes (including one case where the insurer wanted to avoid cover for suspected mortgage fraud), and responding to SRA investigations. One recent example concerned the politically sensitive Immigration Judicial Review applications. Larger firms have tended to call on his file audit expertise to bolster in-house expertise, with his wide experience and independence being particularly valued.
In the run up to the 2010 Professional Indemnity Insurance renewal season he worked closely with the Law Society of England & Wales, being their keynote speaker for a series of PII renewal seminars at 14 venues in England & Wales. He has since spoken at many of its Lexcel and Compliance conferences and continues to help firms with their compliance. Recent webinars for MBL have focused on the role of COLP and COFA.
Tim was one of the initial contributing authors for LexisPSL on its risk and compliance module. Due to his extensive professional indemnity background, including mortgage fraud, he was a member of the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) Assessment Panel until it was wound up in 2015. He still contributes to CQS courses on professional negligence and property fraud for the Law Society.
He worked closely with Aon from 2013 onwards delivering a range of online webinars on risk and compliance topics for their law firms clients. He has also worked with other professional indemnity brokers and top international insurers and has held meetings on their behalf with some of the headline firms involved in the property fraud cases such as Purrunsing and Dreamvar. He has also ‘chewed the fat’ with leading and junior counsel involved in one of the cases.
Until recently, he was accredited by the Law Society of England & Wales as a Lexcel consultant and wrote the Lexcel toolkit on Risk Management (2nd and 3rd editions).
Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management and was chairman of its Legal Risk Special Interest Group which holds meetings and seminars on topical issues. He was involved in the drafting of ISO’s new standard on the management of legal risk.
Over the years he has worked with regulators and representative bodies and has worked with training organisations such as the College of Law, CLT and MBL and with Lexcel assessment bodies such as Recognising Excellence (through whom he was an assessor for the Money Advice Service). Tim is an outsourced regulatory inspector for the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.
Tim worked closely with legal software provider LEAP to develop its Best Practice Standard for Conveyancing and remains its lead auditor.
When time permits, Tim also advises other professionals, particularly chartered surveyors, architects, construction professionals and accountants. He has delivered lectures for the RICS on risk management issues and was a speaker at their first risk management conference. He has helped trainee surveyors start on the right track through guest lectures delivered at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.