nplaw’s former Practice Director Chris Skinner has been posthumously awarded for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Norfolk by the Norwich and Norfolk Law Society.
Chris, who passed away suddenly in February 2017, lived and worked in Norfolk for most of his career.
His children, Tom and Jess, received the award on his behalf from the President of the Norfolk and Norwich Law Society, David Richards, at the Society’s Annual Dinner (September 21st).
Chris was nominated for the award by colleagues at nplaw, which he had helped to establish in 2010 and where he had become the Practice Director in December 2016.
Commenting on Chris’ award, his colleague and friend – chief legal officer Victoria McNeill – said: “Chris’ straightforward approach, his positive can-do attitude and his lovely sense of humour are missed by colleagues and clients alike.
“He has left a huge gap in the world of local government law, in the area of compulsory purchase and in the lives of those who knew him.”
Chris started his career as a trainee solicitor at Norwich City Council. Later, as Assistant Solicitor at Waveney District Council in North Suffolk, he made his first compulsory purchase order in relation to a historic net drying store, one of the last remains of the Lowestoft fishing village that had suffered so badly during the 1939 -1945 war and in the 1953 flood. It was at this point that Chris started developing his ability to combine his expertise in planning, property and litigation and to use the law in innovative and unconventional ways to solve practical problems.
After moving to Great Yarmouth Borough Council in 1986, Chris recognised that there were many houses in Great Yarmouth that were empty at the same time as there being a lack of housing for local people. He started a campaign to get these houses occupied by people who needed homes – leading to an almost unique, at the time, approach to using compulsory purchase powers to solve relatively small, local but enduring problems. This led, over the years, to working on compulsory purchase orders for large regeneration projects and other schemes that would make life better for others throughout England and Wales
Chris was a very practical lawyer; no job was too lowly for him and equally no one was too junior or inexperienced to carry out high level work with his support. He took responsibility for nplaw’s trainee solicitors and encouraged their development and co-ordinated work experience placements for those interested in becoming lawyers, as he felt it was important to help the next generation.