What is the difference Between Lawyers and Notaries Public

May 7, 2024


Two people looking over official papers.

When navigating the complexities of the legal system, understanding the specific roles of legal professionals can ensure you receive the appropriate assistance for your needs. While both lawyers and notaries public play essential roles within the Canadian legal framework, their responsibilities, qualifications, and the services they provide differ significantly. This article aims to demystify the distinct functions of lawyers and notaries public, providing clarity on whom to approach based on your legal requirements. 

Whether you are drafting a Will, buying a home, or need legal advice, knowing these differences can help guide your decisions effectively. Lilian Cazacu, a trusted Notary Public operating in Langley and Aldergrove, offers a unique perspective on the nature and scope of notarial services compared to legal counsel provided by lawyers.

Educational Background and Qualifications

Lawyers and notaries public in Canada follow distinct educational paths and must meet different qualifications. In most Canadian provinces (except for Quebec), a lawyer, also known as an attorney or a barrister and solicitor, must complete a bachelor's degree followed by a law degree, such as a Juris Doctor (JD). 

After obtaining the law degree, aspiring lawyers undergo further training through a bar admission course and articling, which involves working under the supervision of a seasoned lawyer. The final step to becoming a full-fledged lawyer includes passing the bar exam, which upon successful completion, grants them a license to practice law.

In contrast, the pathway to becoming a notary public is somewhat different and can vary by province. For instance, in British Columbia, notaries public must pass several statutory exams with  the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, after they complete a Master's degree in Applied Legal Studies from Simon Fraser University, following a bachelor’s degree in a related field. 

Scope of Practice

One of the key differences between lawyers and notaries lies in their scope of practice. Lawyers have a broad scope, allowing them to represent clients in all courts and various legal matters, including criminal defence, corporate law, family disputes, and more. They are trained to advocate, negotiate, and litigate on behalf of their clients and offer legal advice on a wide range of issues.

On the other hand, notaries public have a more limited scope. Their work primarily focuses on non-contentious legal matters — those that don’t involve disputes or litigation. This includes preparing and witnessing documents concerned with the conveyance of real estate, preparing estate planning documents like Wills, and Powers of Attorney, and providing general advice and witnessing various documents that are not disputed. In all these areas (related to estate planning and real estate), a BC Notary Public practically provides a similar service with that of a lawyer, and is able (and required!) to provide legal advice relating to those services. 

Services Offered

The services provided by lawyers and public notaries reflect their training and areas of expertise. Lawyers can engage in litigation, negotiate on behalf of clients, and prepare a wide range of legal documents. They are equipped to handle the complexities and adversarial nature of legal disputes.

BC Notaries, such as Lilian Cazacu, specialize in services that include drafting and notarizing affidavits, preparing real estate transaction documents (real estate conveyancing for sales, purchases, and mortgage refinances), preparing estate plans and drafting Wills, Powers of Attorney, Representation Agreements, and other legal services, but not representation in court. Notaries are also known for their role in certifying the authenticity of legal documents, which is vital for numerous transactional and corporate processes.

Client Interaction and Engagement

The nature of interactions and engagements with clients also tends to differ between lawyers and notaries. Lawyers often deal with more contentious situations that require detailed legal advice, strategic planning, and, at times, aggressive representation in court. Their engagement with clients can be dynamic and varies greatly depending on the nature of the legal issue.

Notaries usually have interactions that involve less conflict or legal complexity. The essence of their work focuses on planning and ensuring that documents are legally sound, which requires a high level of attention to detail and thoroughness but typically lacks the adversarial component. This often makes visits to notaries less stressful for clients as they generally deal with straightforward procedures.

Importance in Legal System

Both lawyers and notaries public play essential roles within the Canadian legal system, each contributing to the legal landscape in their unique capacities. Lawyers are pivotal in upholding justice, advocating for rights, and navigating the complexities of law. Their ability to intervene in various legal scenarios makes them indispensable in both civil and criminal contexts.

Notaries, on the other hand, contribute by ensuring that a myriad of transactions and agreements are conducted with legal precision and authority. They help maintain the integrity of documentation and reduce potential legal disputes by ensuring that all contractual obligations are clearly outlined and understood by all parties involved.

As you navigate through legal territories, understanding whether you need a lawyer or a notary can save you time and resources. For matters involving court cases or legal disputes, consulting a lawyer is advisable. However, for any real estate conveyancing services, or drafting estate planning documents, such as , Wills and Powers of Attorney, a notary can be just what you need! 

Embracing Legal Expertise: How to Choose the Right Professional

Navigating legal waters can be daunting, making it crucial to tap into the expertise of professionals such as lawyers and notaries. Understanding your needs is key.  You can opt for a lawyer if you're looking to handle legal disputes or complex negotiations, and choose a notary like Lilian Cazacu to help you plan and draft key documents and handle straightforward legal and conveyancing processes. With reliable guidance, your legal journey, whether it involves real estate, estate planning, or contractual agreements, can proceed smoothly and effectively.

Ready to ensure your transactions are secure and well-documented, or need expert advice on non-contentious matters? Visit us at Lilian Cazacu Notary Corporation to experience professional and thorough notary services in Langley tailored to meet your needs. Let us help you navigate your legal requirements with confidence and ease.

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