I work full time as a paralegal in the trusts and estates field. I notarize documents at my place of work and I am wondering if starting a signing agent business on the side could be a conflict of interest. I paid for my own notary commission and supplies. Would I have to refuse signings if the customer is a client or adverse party of my law firm? Would it be advisable to tell my employer of my plans to start a signing agent business?
Is having signing agent business on the side in addition to my full time job as a paralegal a conflict of interest?
My $.02 FWIW
No, I don’t believe it would be a conflict of interest
Yes, I would tell my employer just out of respect but would agree to not harvest clients from them. (I, too, was a paralegal and I did tell my bosses. I also did not conduct any NSA business in the office on office time)
If the signer is an adverse party of your firm … Well, this is just me. If I have that knowledge in advance, I would refer them to another notary.
Hope this helps.
You always give sound and reasonable advice… I agree with everything you said %
I’d definitely ask the employer. I suspect the firm would view their field of work as “law” and anything in that field would be off-limits. So you might get away with notarizing a permission slip for an international school field trip, but I’d be surprised if the firm would go along with any of the stuff that signing agents usually get appointments for.
Doesn’t your firm use mobile notaries? Why can’t it be you. Show them VALUE !
GREAT question to pose to attorneys at your firm as they would be able to give you the legal advice you are seeking.
How would you get the information to tell if a customer is an adverse party or a client of the firm? Do you ask for their name before accepting an assignment? How would you perform a conflict check using the database of clients at the firm?
They use me as an in-house notary for free.
I always worked for small firms so it was easy to know. I’d guess if your firm is larger you could always run it by someone in the know in the office to make sure.
If it is LSA work that was assigned to you from a SS or TC I don’t see how that would be a conflict of interest. If it was GNW and they called you directly (assuming that you advertised your availability after your office closes) and you meet them on your own time? I would absolutely let your employer know and maybe come to some type of agreement or a standard of operations for how you would run your business and get it in a memorandum of understanding so you have a record of it.
@LindaH-FL has provided the same advice I would have offered. I’ll that it depends on the type of engagement you’re handling. If its for an adverse party step carefully. If there’s any doubt, ask to have the engagement reassigned. If the SS or title asks why, tell them there’s non-disclosable conflict of interest. This is especially the case it involves Estate assets, wills or property transfers that would conflict with your role as a paralegal. Make certain you disclose to your employer you’ve been in contact with a party in conflict. Lawyer don’t want one of these hidden treasures showing up in court.
My experience as a reader of notary message boards since 1999 is that its common for paralegals to moonlight as signing agents. Some even brag about using their employer as a back office for supplies, scanning and printing. I think it’s a natural fit you should take full advantage of.