E-signature technology has grown steadily since its inception, but the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown it into overdrive. Businesses have had to change the way they operate to stay afloat, and remote work environments have demanded the availability of e-signature solutions.
Electronic signatures offer many benefits beyond remote work environments, especially for law firms. In a world where consumers want convenience and flexibility, law firms need to stay ahead of the curve and embrace disruption.
If your law firm has yet to experience the benefits of an e-signature tool, now might be a great time to give it a try.
If you’re still worried about collecting online signatures in your practice, we’ve outlined some general facts about the technology and its ubiquitous use in the industry. We encourage you to read ahead to learn more!
What is an electronic signature?
An electronic signature, or eSignature, is an electronic symbol attached to a contract or record and intentionally signed by the signer.
Valid and legally binding, electronic signatures can be used in most places where an ink signature is used, based on the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the Electronic Signature Act in the Global and National Trade (ESIGN).
To be recognized as a legally binding signature under U.S. federal law, electronic signatures must comply with the following standards:
Intention to sign: The party must intend to sign the document and agree to its terms.
Consent to electronic transaction: Each party must agree to the use of electronic signatures and records after disclosures.
Association of the electronic signature with the agreement or registration: The electronic signature must be associated with the signed record.
Clear attribution: The signature must be clearly attributed to the party who signed it.
Retention of records: All parties to an electronically signed recording must have access to the recording and the ability to reproduce the recording.
Electronic signature has already shown benefits and promise for many industries, – and consumers are starting to take notice of who is using and not using the time-saving technology.
How Electronic Signatures Can Benefit Your Law Firm
A paperless signing process
Law firms can collect signatures and approvals on documents from clients or employees, wherever they are. As more lawyers work remotely and clients expect more virtual correspondence, the convenience and seamless client experience of electronic signatures is unmatched. With no limits on the number of documents you can send for signature, your team and clients will never have to worry about finding and sending documents.
Less wasted time for your practice and your clients
One of the biggest advantages of eSignature is time savings. It takes an average of 5 days to obtain a physical signature, compared to only 37 minutes for an electronic signature. Going back and forth with documentation and signing can be tedious, especially if travel is involved. Electronic signature solutions ensure that documentation is signed as early and quickly as needed, wherever the parties are located, and avoids delays in the process. In some industries, including the legal industry, executing time-sensitive documents is critical to operations.
Electronic signatures also eliminate repetitive signatures and eliminate delays in updating or executing contracts, regardless of the location of either party. Over the course of a full year, organizations can save 22,000 hours by implementing an electronic signature process.
Money saved for your law firm
Even if it doesn’t seem like it, physical signatures can lead to a lot of wasted labor and materials. The paperless signing process reduces paper, copying, packaging, shipping and delivery costs. Law firms can realize between 55% and 78.62% in total savings by migrating to an electronic signature solution.
Paperless processes also reduce the risk of human error when signing by an average of 80%. Whether it’s an administrative issue or a problem from either party, e-signature solutions ensure the smoothest and most accurate process possible.
Electronic signatures are more secure for sensitive or confidential documents, which is valuable for a law firm. These solutions have built-in security protocols for sending, receiving and storing electronic documents. In the event of fraud, a digital audit trail allows documents to be verified.
Coordinating physical signatures for vital and legally binding documents can be a time-consuming and tedious process. Hybrid or remote teams can make this even more difficult, especially with longer lead times and clients who are traveling or otherwise indisposed. Electronic signatures streamline the whole process and make obtaining signatures easier. In fact, there is an average 80% reduction in turnaround time when using electronic signatures.
Are electronic signatures still legally binding?
As mentioned, electronic signatures are considered legally binding by the US federal government. in most situations. There are a few exceptions, however, including wills, court documents, and other documents. Laws can vary from state to state, so it’s important for businesses to familiarize themselves with the legality of electronic signatures for their uses.
Although electronic signatures are not suitable for all situations, they can eliminate much of the delays, errors and wasted time of physical signatures for a wide variety of documents and contracts.
As the world changes, businesses must adapt to meet customer demands and offer the tools and technology they want, including electronic signature.