As a lawyer, your colleagues have probably told you all the reasons why you shouldn’t use e-signatures: “they’re too risky,” “too many things can go wrong” – you can’t blame them for assessing the risks, they’re just doing their job. However, the next time you’re standing in front of the fax machine for five minutes before realizing it’s out of paper, maybe it’s time for your legal department to consider adopting e-signatures and get rid of the fax machine altogether.
1. E-signatures have been around since the Victorian times.
E-signatures have been legal in the United States since 2000, but they’re actually much older than that. In 1869 the New Hampshire State Supreme Court ruled that intent could be verified electronically – by telegraph at the time. Since intent is what counts, the medium in which the document is signed doesn’t matter.
2. E-signatures create a ton of evidence.
All it takes to forge a signature on paper is a pen. If there’s one thing lawyers love, it’s evidence. E-signatures from our partner DocuSign carry a lot of information about the sender, along with a full audit trail, bank-level encryption, tamper-proof certificates and multi-step authentication. Each of these data points provide lawyers with sufficient evidence that can hold up in court.
3. Everyone’s doing it.
Other lawyers in the field have made your life easier by already sorting through any legal concerns surrounding electronic signatures in the areas of admissibility, compliance and repudiation, and it’s fine with them. According to a number of national and international laws, e-signatures can be submitted as evidence in litigation (including in The Netherlands). On a similar note, e-signatures help ensure regulatory compliance, since governments accept them as valid types of signatures. Plus, e-signatures and the documents they validate are stored digitally, so contracts can’t be lost or destroyed by accident, which means a record of actions is always available. Repudiation is when a signer denies the document was signed or the document was edited after they signed. The digital information associated with an e-signature contains proof of both a signer’s identity and the document’s integrity, so there’s no misunderstanding.
4. Think of how much stakeholders will love it.
A lawyer’s job is to protect the client’s interests. A client’s interests likely involve increasing the organization’s value for stakeholders, so streamlining processes is important. What company isn’t trying to increase efficiency and save money these days? For instance, the integration of DocuSign with Legisway allows lawyers to benefit from a 100% digitalized paperless workflow. There’s no more money or time wasted waiting at the printer, tracking down a signer and shipping costs. By removing the prices of printing, faxing and express shipping, companies experience significant savings.
5. Don’t dive into the deep end, just dip a toe.
If your colleagues are a little skeptical about getting rid of all contracts on paper and adopting the use of e-signatures across the organization in one go, show everyone by implementing the technology on standard types of contracts. A good starting point are non-disclosure agreements – every corporate legal department struggles to handle the mounting pile of these types of low-risk, high volume agreements. Showing your colleagues how e-signatures can make their lives easier is a great way to help them grasp how valuable this technology can be for the entire organization.
It’s easy to convince your corporate legal department when you’re armed with a logical argument – like the one we just put together for you. When your colleagues fully understand that e-signatures comply with local and international legislation, are more secure than handwritten signatures and contain a full audit trail, your biggest concern is what to do with the empty space where the fax machine used to be. How about a mini-fridge?