When Maria José Gandolfo worked as an oncology researcher, she took a lot of pride in knowing that she was helping people. But there was something missing.
She wanted to connect with the people she was helping.
It was the sort of interaction that she saw her husband, Cam Sherk, enjoy as a Squamish-based notary. Cam, a Notary who was one of the first notaries to receive a Master’s degree in Applied Legal Studies from Simon Fraser University, used his expertise to help him guide clients through the complexities of property law and estate planning. He could spend time with his clients, building relationships and trust.
After working for her husband for a couple of years, Gandolfo followed his lead by enrolling in the intensive program created by the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia. She graduated from SFU with her ALS Master’s degree in June 2019 and has joined the family firm as a notary.
“When you help people this way, it’s different. It’s more personal and there’s more of a connection between you and your client,” she says. “You get to directly help people and that’s a very rewarding experience.”
Gandolfo concentrates on estate planning, which can delve into sensitive, complicated family dynamics. “A lot of people who come here have hit a wall. They don’t know what to do and need someone to steer them in the right direction. Often, my clients need someone to talk to. When they walk in here they feel they’re in a safe environment.”
“We know the law and we lay it out for them,” says Sherk. “At the end of the day, we’re problem solvers and because we practice non-contentious law we help clients work towards a resolution when problems arise.”
Originally from Peru, one of the strengths Gandolfo brings to the team is her fluency in Spanish, making her one of only eight Spanish speaking notaries in the province, and the only Spanish Speaking Notary from the North Shore all the way through the Sea to Sky Corridor. “Even though my Spanish-speaking clients are fluent in English, when it comes to legal lingo, it’s a little harder to understand in a second language. I can explain the equivalent in Spanish. It furthers their understanding and makes them feel more comfortable.”