Within the general debate on the need for more competition as far as services supply is concerned, one chapter in particular deals with the liberalization of certain professions. Among these is that of the profession of notary which has its own characteristics and peculiarities. This essay stems from the conviction that it is only by bearing this in mind that it is possible to seriously address the issue regarding the need or not for reorganizing notary activity. In order to clarify these characteristics and peculiarities, in the first part we take a brief look at the history of the notary profession in Italy. In the second part some instruments of the economic analysis of law help us to point out good reasons for the existence of the notarial role. In the last part an evaluation is attempted of the main forms of autoregulation in force and we wonder if their existence is still justifiable in terms of general interest.