Solicitor and notary are typically used interchangeably in the legal world. However, it’s important to note that while they are both legal services, there are a lot of important distinctions between them. In fact, the day-to-day roles of a notary public and that of a solicitor are very different. 

Here are the main differences between a solicitor and a notary public. Understanding these differences will help you choose the right profession. 

Qualifications and Training

All solicitors will need to be fully qualified with a law degree or graduate diploma in law or a law-based apprenticeship. However, in order to become a notary public, there are many additional steps in the training process. More academic studying might be necessary, which covers notary public services.


Solicitors make up one of the largest parts of the legal profession. They are qualified to provide many different solicitor services, including anything from criminal law to commercial litigation to property law and conveyancing. A solicitor may also help with contention issues, giving advice and representation for their client. 

In contrast, a notary public will focus on one highly specialized area of the legal profession. This is the preparation of documents, so they will be able to be used internally. 

This can include both personal and corporate documents, like passports, qualification certificates and deeds. The only restriction is it needs to be a non-contentious legal matter, where all parties are in agreement. A notary public cannot provide any legal advice or representation. They are merely involved with witnessing signatures and the authentication of documents. 

Primary Duties

A solicitor’s primary duty is to act in the best interest of their client. On the other hand, a notary’s primary duty is to make sure all documents are legally authentic. These are both recognized professions all over the world. This means that it’s important for them to comply with worldwide standards. A notary needs to remain impartial in all situations, showing integrity and authenticating documents in a legal, objective and standardized manner. 

A solicitor cannot provide notary services unless they have had the additional training and background checks needed to also be qualified as a notary public. You cannot ask a solicitor who specializes in a certain area of law to notarize documents. Unless, of course, if they are a licensed notary public as well. 

You may also think that barristers are the same thing as a notary public or solicitor, but they are not. Both barristers and solicitors are types of lawyers. Solicitors often instruct barristers to represent their clients in court. Barristers will go to court as client advocates and fight for the case verbally.