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As a notary public, you might be wondering how your role differs from that of a lawyer. As a customer you will often hear from notaries that they cannot provide legal advice. While both professions involve legal matters, there are some key differences between the two. Here are some of the main distinctions:
Education and Training
One of the biggest differences between a notary public and a lawyer is their level of education and training. To become a notary public, you typically need to complete a short training program and pass an exam. In contrast, becoming a lawyer requires a college degree, followed by several years of law school and passing the bar exam.
Scope of Practice
Notaries public may have a limited scope of practice compared to lawyers, but their role in the legal system is still crucial. By verifying the identity of signers, ensuring that documents are properly executed, and administering oaths, notaries play an important part in preventing fraud and ensuring the validity of legal transactions. Without notaries, there would be a higher risk of fraudulent documents being accepted and legal transactions being contested or invalidated.
For example, when you sign a mortgage or real estate document, a notary public will often be present to verify your identity and witness your signature. This notarization helps ensure that the document is legally binding and can be enforced in court if necessary. Similarly, when you create a power of attorney document, a notary will typically be involved in verifying the identity of the person granting the power and ensuring that the document is properly executed. This helps prevent unauthorized use of the power of attorney and ensures that the grantor’s wishes are carried out as intended.
In short, notaries public may not provide legal advice or represent clients in court, but their role in verifying the authenticity of legal documents is essential to the functioning of the legal system
On the other hand, lawyers have a much broader scope of practice and can provide legal advice, draft legal documents, and represent clients in court.
Liability and Insurance
Notaries public are held to a high standard of professionalism and are required to carry insurance to protect against errors and omissions. However, their liability is generally limited to notarization-related errors. Lawyers, on the other hand, can be held liable for a wide range of legal errors and malpractice claims.
Notaries public typically charge a small fee for their services, which is set by state law. Lawyers, on the other hand, charge hourly rates or flat fees, which can vary depending on the complexity of the case.
In summary, while both notaries public and lawyers play important roles in the legal system, they have distinct differences in their education and training, scope of practice, liability and insurance, and fees. If you’re in need of legal advice or representation, it’s important to consult with a licensed attorney. However, if you require notarization services, a notary public can help ensure your documents are properly authenticated.