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Q&A: Notary Liability In The Legal Field

Law firms normally maintain insurance policies to protect attorneys and employees from liability — but sometimes there may be exceptions for notarizations performed by legal professionals. The Legal Professionals Section spoke with attorney Nicole LeBoeuf of Shackelford Melton & McKinley in Dallas, Texas, who frequently handles malpractice cases, on this topic.

Does a law firm’s malpractice insurance cover notarizations performed by employees?
It really depends from provider to provider. These policies often stipulate that a Notary’s work is covered as long as the work is done in the course of the firm’s business. For providers that do not include Notaries in their standard polices, it’s sometimes possible to add them to a policy in an endorsement. Since coverage varies, it’s important for Notaries to know what kind of protection they have under their firm’s policy.

Should Notaries still get personal liability coverage to protect themselves?
Absolutely. E&O insurance is highly recommended, whether they are covered under the firm’s malpractice coverage or not. They should also not get lax about recording every notarial act and checking ID of signers, even when notarizing for a long term client of the firm.

What’s the best way for a Notary to find out whether the firm’s malpractice insurance covers notarizations?
You’d need to ask what coverage exists. Coverage protects the firm too, since the firm is likely to be sued for the acts of its employee, as well as the employee possibly being named as a defendant.

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