With reduced face to face contact, many law firms may need to take advantage of the benefits of electronic signatures. Plenty of law firms have put together teams to respond to COVID-19 issues that could impact their firm – from health to client services and IT capabilities. Once immediate health and safety issues are addressed, the next goal for many firms is to ensure that are no interruptions in servicing clients and matters. Having a team in place can also improve communication and convey important information to your staff and clients. Silence leads to confusion and concern. With a centralized team that ensures that partners, employees, and clients receive accurate, real-time information, the likelihood that those parties will receive misinformation from uninformed sources is decreased.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered the way people live and conduct business. Many non-essential businesses have had to close their doors and establish remote workforces, and many individuals have ended up in quarantine which means that acquiring wet signatures on paper can be highly inconvenient if not impossible. This reality has in turn focused attention on electronic formats. As millions of people are under mandatory or voluntary restrictions limiting their in-person interactions in order to flatten the curve, and are increasingly dependent more than ever on virtual meetings and remote technology, questions about the legality of electronic signatures are coming to the forefront. Signing documents in electronic format or having them witnessed or notarized remotely is not only convenient but is becoming more and more necessary as health-related lockdowns occur.
Whether or not an electronically signed document is valid and enforceable depends on a number of factors including the type of transaction and document involved, the state law governing the location of the parties, and the way in which the document will be executed. The risk of electronic signatures being unenforceable or invalid is a real one and careful compliance with applicable laws is important.
When executed properly, electronic signatures have the same power as paper and ink signatures throughout the United States. The U.S. has two sources of law that govern the legal effect of electronic signatures: The Federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act or E-SIGN and the state Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. The guiding principles of both laws is that, absent exceptions, when the parties to a contract have agreed to use an E-SIGN, the signature cannot be denied legal effect just because it is in electronic form, and a contract cannot be refused enforceability because an electronic record was used. In every jurisdiction in the United States E-SIGN has basically the same rules which should make any expansion of the use of eSignatures an easy accommodation during the pandemic.
The use of personal computers, tablets and smartphones now allows nearly everyone the ability to convey signed documents remotely using technology similar to a fax, by printing and manually signing the document, taking a picture of the executed signature page with a smartphone, and then sending an email of the photo to a counterparty with an acknowledgment that it is the signatory’s executed signature page to the agreement. There is an iPhone Notes app that even enables users to take photos of multiple pages and save them as one file for transmission, like a scanner.
There are many benefits to your firm adopting electronic signatures, especially during this time of social distancing and quarantine including:
a) no need to track down people for physical signatures (notwithstanding the delay this can cause)
b) contracts can be signed anywhere on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop without the need to scan, fax, or overnight which means getting contracts done faster; the goal of every legal department
c) eliminating or even reducing the need for physical storage of contracts, as well as the savings associated with mailing documents
d) the ability to set up a routing process so the signatures are acquired in the right order and a fully executed copy comes back to the legal department
e) the capability to monitor the status of the execution of the contract in real time
f) many of the solutions are simple and intuitive to use
g) it is the perfect solution to getting contracts completed during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
If your firm is ready to adopt electronic signatures, here are some things for your to-do list:
Law Ruler Software is an accommodating legal case management software comprising features such as Legal CRM and Contact Management, online intake forms, and document templates and automation. Law Ruler Software has easy-to-use, customizable online intake forms and ensures that all data is automatically stored in the system while allowing users to create and customize document templates easily and automate printing and delivery to clients. The software is also capable of tracking marketing sources and tagging labels.
Unsigned documents can delay business, and E-signature helps resolve these delays enabling clients to easily sign and return documents. Using E-SIGN in Law Ruler will allow your firm to continuously send retainer contracts and other legal documents to clients and potential clients if travel to and from the office becomes restricted. Legally binding electronic agreements can be safely stored and protected in business networks, government databases, external backup drives, or in the Cloud. Once completed, these documents embed the pertinent information into a single file secure from tampering. With Law Ruler, a leading legal CRM that is available as a standalone solution that includes 6 apps in 1 including legal practice management, users can increase productivity, improve speed and accuracy, and save time and cost. Check out this video on YouTube to see how Law Ruler can provide you with the best E-SIGN software.
With reduced face to face contact, many law firms may need to take advantage of the benefits of electronic signatures. Plenty of law firms have put together teams to respond to COVID-19 issues that could impact their firm – from health to client services and IT capabilities. Once immediate health and safety issues are addressed, […]