Notaries give advice to clients at important times in their lives: when they get married, sign a contract, make a will, etc. Notaries often write legal documents and help people reach agreements.
Do you think lawyers are the only legal professionals? Think again!
Notaries are also legal professionals. They advise clients on legal matters at important times in their lives. But unlike lawyers, they can’t represent clients in court when cases are contested, that is, when one side is opposing another.
Notaries must be neutral. They can’t take sides. Instead, they must consider the rights of all people involved in a situation. They’re specialists in getting people to agree. Notaries sometimes act as mediators to help solve problems so people don’t end up in court, for example, during a divorce or when neighbours can’t agree about a fence.
They also prepare notarial documents including wills, mortgages and marriage contracts. Notarial documents are “authentic.” This means the documents have special legal status and are hard to challenge.
Notaries are often responsible for making sure families, property and businesses are protected. They use computer technology to handle financial matters, sign documents and communicate with clients.
Notaries help their clients at important times in their lives: getting married, buying property, starting a business, looking after financial matters, death, etc. These are their main duties:
- give legal advice to clients in order to prevent or solve problems
- write documents that follow special legal rules, after doing research and checking necessary information
- make sure their clients are protected legally and financially, for example, when selling a house or a business, or when paying off a mortgage
- represent clients in court in cases where people are not opposing one another, for example, when adopting a child
Notaries usually work in an office. They might work alone, with other notaries or sometimes in companies. They might leave their office once in a while to meet clients or other people, or to go to court. They usually work 40 hours a week or more. Sometimes they might work evenings and weekends.
To become a notary, you first need a bachelor’s degree in law and then a master’s degree in notarial law.
Before they can practise in Quebec, notaries must
- complete the professional training given by Chambre des notaires (professional association of notaries) and
- be admitted to the Chambre des notaires. Visit the website of the Chambre des notaires for more information on admission requirements (Website in French only).
Notaries must take at least 30 hours of continuing education courses every two years. This helps them keep their knowledge up to date, keep up with their profession and improve their skills.
Notaries earn from $30,000 to over $100,000 a year. Their salary depends on the number of hours they work and the fees they charge, and on whether they are employees, partners in a firm or are self-employed. Notaries who work in companies might have benefits, such as group insurance, RRSPs and paid vacation days.
Notaries decide how much to charge their clients for the work they do. They might charge a professional fee for each hour they work for a client, or they might charge a fixed amount.
As notaries gain more experience and more clients, their income usually increases also.
The website of the Chambre des notaires du Québec (French only) has information on the role, training, practise and inspection of notaries. There is also a section that explains the history of the profession.
Service Canada’s website has information about notaries, job prospects and required training.
Emploi Québec’s Information sur le marché du travail website (job market information) also has information about notaries, including the work they do, job prospects and necessary training.