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Attorneys as Notaries

Adopted: July 17, 1992

Opinion rules that a lawyer may notarize documents which are to be used in legal proceedings in which the lawyer appears.


In light of the repeal of G.S. §47-8 which prohibited attorneys holding the office of notary public from administering "any oaths to a person to a paper writing to be used in any legal proceedings in which he appears as attorney," is there any ethical impediment to a lawyer's now acting as a notary public in that capacity?


No. In Ethics Opinion 354, decided under the former Canons of Ethics, the council generally ruled that an attorney acting as a notary public could notarize documents drawn by him in his capacity as an attorney. In subsequent Ethics Opinion 801, also decided under the Canons of Ethics, the scope of Ethics Opinion 354 was limited in recognition of then G.S. §47-8, and attorneys were ethically prohibited from administering oaths in regard to paper writings such as complaints, answers or affidavits which were to be used in legal proceedings in which the attorney appeared of record. Since the statute in question has since been repealed and there is no other compelling justification for the restriction, it is now permissible for an attorney to notarize documents for use in legal proceedings in which the attorney appears.

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