Are You a Lawyer? And Why Don't You Have an Office?

Clients often ask me if I'm a lawyer. I assume that I'm asked this because many people aren't exactly sure what a notary is. To be fair, notaries don't get a lot of publicity (unfortunately none of the Kardashians are notaries).  We are also somewhat difficult to categorize: We provide legal-type services, but don't provide legal advice or legal representation.

To answer the question: Yes, I am a lawyer and a member in good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Pursuant to the Notaries Act, all notaries in Ontario must be lawyers. However, I currently do not practice law and therefore limit my legal services to notarization and commissioning of oaths. But like all other lawyers, I slogged through three years of law school, 20 or so hours of bar exams and 10 months of articling.

Another question I'm often asked is where my office is located.  And when I explain that, as a mobile notary I don't have an office and meet clients in Starbucks, people will sometimes ask if that's "normal" or comment that it seems a bit strange.

There's a few reasons why I do not have an office.  Firstly, offices are very expensive. One of the reasons legal services are so expensive is to pay for those expensive offices. Without an office, I'm able to pass on the savings to my clients and provide notary public and commissioner for taking oaths services at affordable and accessible rates.  Secondly, not having an office allows me to be flexible: I'm able to meet clients at times that fit their schedule, or provide them with house calls across downtown Toronto. Non-traditional legal practices in which lawyers or notaries work from their homes, shared offices or alternative offices, such as coworking spaces, are becoming increasingly common as we strive to provide high quality services to our clients at affordable prices. Thirdly, Starbucks makes much better coffee than I do.