PNCR 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 30 years ago, founding director Tim Prior 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. In the first half of 2013 he completed almost 50 speaking engagements 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 2016 the scope of the chapter was widened to cover other property fraud issues including cyber fraud and the content for 2017 is already underway. 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. For smaller firms, he has helped with risk 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 the in-house team, 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 insurance matters.
In 2013 he delivered a nationwide series of 20 seminars for global broker Aon. He has worked closely with Aon since then delivering a range of online webinars on risk and compliance topics for their law firms clients. He also continues to work with other brokers and top international insurers.
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 now writes courses on professional negligence and property fraud for CQS member firms.
He is accredited by the Law Society of England & Wales as a Lexcel consultant and wrote the Lexcel toolkit on Risk Management (2nd edition). He still renews his Practising Certificate every year but is technically a non-practising solicitor as PNCR Legal is not a law firm.
Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management and chairman of its Legal Risk Special Interest Group which holds meetings and seminars on topical issues.
At a time of great change in the legal profession, Tim has been actively involved in key developments over recent years. He participated in the Law Society's PII subgroup review of PII insurance following the 2009 renewal season and gave evidence to Nick Smedley's review of legal regulation. He was actively involved in consultations on ABSs and, as a result, has trained lay board members at ABSs on compliance. Before its launch, he provided input on the Solicitors Regulation Authority's proposed Competence Statement for solicitors which became compulsory on 1 November 2016.
Over the years he has worked with regulators and representative bodies and has worked with training organisations such as the College of Law and CLT and with Lexcel assessment bodies such as Recognising Excellence (through whom he is an assessor for the Money Advice Service).
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.