Guest blog by Iain Rogers from The Notaries Society:

When thinking about a career in the law, not many people consider qualifying as a notary, not at first anyway. This blog explains how and why you can qualify as a notary.

What it involves

The work of a notary is based on the authentication of documents and deeds so that they may be relied on in foreign countries. It requires broad knowledge of the law and an aptitude for lateral thinking and problem solving. The differences in legal systems across the world present particular challenges to people and business entering into cross-border transactions, and a notary facilitates the acceptance of documents across those borders.

This means that notaries have to specialise in certain areas of the law, in particular the execution formalities for deeds and other documents, but it also requires a general knowledge of many different subjects. As lawyers in general become more and more specialised, the general legal knowledge and experience of notaries can be an attractive feature of the profession to some.

It is a particularly rewarding profession for lawyers with linguistic abilities as documents are often produced in foreign languages or translated into or out of a foreign language by notaries so that they can be accepted in this country or abroad. Knowledge of one or more foreign languages is certainly an advantage, although it is not essential for a successful career as a notary.

How to qualify

There are relatively few notaries in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems for appointing notaries), so it is a small but select profession. Many notaries also practise as solicitors, but increasingly notaries are practising solely in that capacity.

Applicants to the notarial profession are welcome at any stage in their careers, but there are definite advantages to applying early. There is a substantial amount of academic learning required for admission as a notary and it can be difficult to return to study after a number of years as a practitioner. Academic studies completed within five years of applying to study to become a notary are taken into account, so it is a good idea to think about starting the qualification procedure shortly after completing your LPC.

To find out more about notaries, see the websites of the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury (the regulator of notarial activities under the Legal Services Act 2007) and The Notaries Society.