Lawyer or Notary Public – Who Do I Choose and Why?
A Notary Public in British Columbia has fulfilled the course and membership credential requirements of the Society of Notaries Public that enable him or her to perform certain legal procedures and to draft legal documents like basic wills, Powers of Attorney, real estate conveyancing documents, and to witness sworn statements on legal documents, commonly referred to as “notarizing” them.
Lawyers in BC, on the other hand, have no restrictions on the legal services they can provide, other than their professional obligation not to practice in areas of law that they are unfamiliar with. In fact, lawyers provide all of the legal services that Notaries provide, plus such additional legal services as legal separation and divorce, estate probate, business incorporations, court claims, more complex wills and trusts, and more. It is quite common for Notaries to refer clients to lawyers that they trust, should the client’s legal matter become more complicated than anticipated at the start.
What is often confusing to people is that all lawyers in BC are also Notaries! If you assume that Notaries charge less than lawyers, you are not alone. While lawyers often are hired for more complex legal matters that Notaries are not qualified to undertake, lawyers typically charge very similar fees to those of Notaries for the same legal services.
Of course lawyers, like Notaries, vary by level of experience, expertise, trustworthiness, and in the fees that they charge, so you do need to be careful and do your homework before you decide who to hire to take care of your legal matters. You should ask questions about experience handling your type of legal issue, ability to do the work in a time frame that you require, as well on pricing. You should also use Google and other internet tools to check ratings and read reviews, and find out from your friends and family whether they have been satisfied with a lawyer or Notary they have hired in the past.
Should you choose poorly, and your legal provider, whether lawyer or Notary, make a mistake that impacts you, both the Society of Notaries Public and the Law Society of British Columbia provide liability insurance for mistakes or unlawful acts committed by their members, and they both operate committees for the review of disciplinary complaints against their members by the public.
To learn more about the difference between lawyers and Notaries, here are a few links you may find interesting and informative: