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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 17: Notaries public not licensed to practice law; prohibition from offering legal advice or advertisement as legal specialist; immigration matters; real estate closings

Section 17. (a) A notary public shall not advise clients, offer legal advice or represent or advertise the notary public as a legal specialist or consultant unless the notary public is an attorney licensed to practice law in the commonwealth. A notary public shall not state or imply in any communication that the notary public can or will obtain special favors from or has special influence with a government agency. A notary public who is not licensed to practice law in the commonwealth shall not make a literal translation of the notary public's status as ''licensed'' or as a ''notary public'' into a language other than English without regard to the true meaning of the word or phrase in that language or use any other term that implies that the notary public is an attorney so licensed, in any document, including an advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card or other written or broadcast material describing the notary public or the notary public's services.

(b) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the commonwealth:

(i) shall not offer legal advice or advise a client as to the immigration status of a client, secure or attempt to secure supporting documents including, but not limited to, birth certificates, necessary to complete a client's immigration forms or submit completed immigration forms on a client's behalf to any governmental agency;

(ii) may translate questions presented on an immigration form for another person and may complete those forms at the explicit direction of such other person only if the translation of such other person's answers is necessary; and

(iii) prior to providing services of any kind related to an immigration matter or any matter that could influence or affect a person's immigration status, shall provide a client with a written statement that states ''I am not an attorney licensed to practice law. I may not give you legal advice or advise you about immigration policies or procedures. You should seek the advice of a qualified attorney to assist you with any legal questions or with questions about legal status under immigration law.''

(c) Subsection (b) shall not apply to:

(i) an attorney licensed to practice law in any state or territory of the United States or in a foreign country when authorized by the supreme judicial court, to the extent the attorney renders immigration assistance service in the course of the attorney's practice as an attorney;

(ii) a paralegal, legal intern or law student employed by an attorney so licensed and rendering immigration assistance in the course of the intern's or student's employment; and

(iii) an organization employing or desiring to employ a person who is not a citizen of the United States if the organization, its employees or agents provide advice or assistance in immigration-related matters to noncitizen employees or potential employees without compensation from the individuals to whom such advice or assistance is provided.

(d) A notary public who is not an attorney shall not engage in the practice of law. This subsection shall not preclude a notary public who is duly qualified, trained or experienced in a particular industry or professional field from selecting, drafting or completing a certificate or other document related to a matter within that industry or field.

(e) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the commonwealth shall not conduct a real estate closing and shall not act as a real estate closing agent; provided, however, that a notary public who is employed by an attorney so licensed may notarize a document in conjunction with a real estate closing conducted by the attorney and a notary public who is employed by a lender may notarize a document in conjunction with the closing of such lender's real estate loans.

(f) This section shall apply to a notary public and to any person who employs, contracts with or otherwise uses the services of a notary public with knowledge or reason to know of conduct that is in violation of this section.