Go2Notary, LLC is not employed by an attorney/law firm, nor are our legal dealings in any way "substantive", nor do we meet the requirements of 20-115 NMRA.
We do not possess any of the knowledge, skills or training guidelines set forth in paragraph B.
Unless a NM-appointed notary meets these criteria, they cannot therefore represent themselves as a "paralegal" for anyone. NM notary law is explicit about non-attorney notaries not practicing law.
As used in these rules:
A. a “paralegal” is a person who:
(1) contracts with or is employed by an attorney, law firm, corporation, governmental agency or other entity;
(2) performs substantive legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney who assumes professional responsibility for the final work product; and
(3) meets one or more of the education, training or work experience qualifications set forth in Rule 20-115 NMRA of these rules; and
B. “substantive legal work” is work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. Examples of substantive legal work performed by a paralegal include: case planning, development and management; legal research and analysis; interviewing clients; fact gathering and retrieving information; drafting legal documents; collecting, compiling, and utilizing technical information to make an independent decision and recommendation to the supervising attorney; and representing clients before a state or federal administrative agency if that representation is authorized by law. Substantive legal work performed by a paralegal for a licensed attorney shall not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.
Secondly, while New Mexico - as in many states - has no licensing of paralegals, the state does provide some pretty clear-cut guidelines of what a paralegal is and how they must operate and to whom they are accountable. Needless to say, Go2Notary, LLC does not have any paralegals.
The troubling part of it all is that So-And-So-Company, based in California, even after being told by us that a state notary or NSA would not qualify unless part of a law firm, more than likely called the next NSA service on the list.
And it is almost certain one of them said yes when they should have said no.
This is what New Mexico state and the state Bar Association says about paralegals:
simple telephone call can lead to a not-so-simple dilemma.
A call by a national signing service is par for the course in our line of work - that is how we get our NSA business for the most part.
Overseeing various real estate signings is a huge part of what we do - seller packages, buyer packages, first and second loans, refinances - all are part of the Notary Signing Agent's job. This call started off no differently, asking if Go2Notary, LLC was available for a signing on a certain date, at a certain place, at a certain time and for a certain fee.
Of course we were. That's what we do.
Then came the $64,000 question. "Can you handle a debt settlement?"
Under normal circumstances, the answer would be yes if an attorney has prepared the settlement documents and we were being asked to oversee the signing (of real estate) as part of that settlement. After all, notaries and NSAs are trained to be impartial witnesses to those sorts of things. So the answer was a provisional yes, but we asked them what was required.
Then came the kicker, "You just need to take a 12-question test online and tell them you are a paralegal for So-And-So Company."
That set off more bells than a three-alarm fire.
Firstly, in New Mexico - as well as most states - a notary is a ministerial appointed official. That means we cannot interpret or otherwise advise on aspects of law. We follow set procedures in the official acts that we do. There is no "wriggle room" and no gray ambiguous area open to interpretation.
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