Why isn't your law firm using e-signatures?

December 09, 2019

As reported by The Law Society Gazette in September, Magic Circle member Linklaters is among the latest law firms to introduce e-signatures. However, this readily-available and low-cost technology means it can now be adopted by law firms of all sizes.

The London-headquartered law firm says it is now “offering clients the opportunity to sign documents directly from their smartphone, tablet or desktop to enhance the client experience by making document signing faster, easier, more convenient and secure.”

According to Linklaters, the technology could put an end to the time-consuming practice of printing, signing, and scanning multiple documents, “significantly reducing client time spent doing so, [also] meaning clients no longer need to stay in the office while lawyers finalise agreements”.

Speedier and more convenient

Linklaters has used the technology in four deals, but plans soon to use it more widely. It says client feedback so far has been “extremely positive, both in respect of the speedier and more convenient alternative to traditional methods that this provides and in relation to the security that the technology affords, with an audit trail that captures who signed what, when and where for every transaction.”

The Law Society Gazette quoted London-based finance partner Mark Nuttall, who it says was first to use the new solution. He commented: “Completing a signing in the traditional way can be a lengthy process, whereas [now] with the click of a mouse or tap of a tablet or smartphone, it can be reduced to minutes, [while] maintaining the formality and security of signing.”

Nuttall said Linklaters was inspired to introduce the technology after observing how e-signatures (also referred to as digital signatures) are commonly used for rental market transactions. “It was clearly applicable to our work and our business services team quickly turned the idea into a reality,” he explained.

Welcome news

A Law Society spokesperson welcomed the news, saying: “It’s good to see that the roll-out of digital signatures continues, so solicitors [can] focus on advising clients instead of being bogged down in arcane administrative tasks and clients can get on with their business.”

According to the Law Society: “The Electronic Communications Act 2000 gives legal force to electronic contracts, but wet signatures are still required for transactions such as granting lasting powers of attorney [and] conveyancing.”

Using e-signature solutions could potentially offer all law firms significant time, paper, postage and other cost savings when they need documents signing by clients, rather than having to rely on printing and posting documents, with the delays and costs involved. E-signature technology users can also retain more control and visibility over the process, and documents can be encrypted for additional security, with a complete audit trail maintained.

There is a wide range of e-signature solutions available, with cloud-based services making the process simple, more convenient and exclusively online. Many solutions also offer mobile apps, so recipients can sign with their fingertip via their smartphone or tablet. Most leading e-signature software can also be integrated into existing IT systems. Maybe it’s time your law firm had a closer look at e-signatures and the benefits they could bring to your business.

SOS is pleased to confirm that full integration of its SOS Connect software with Adobe e-Sign is now released and available.

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