Is there any profession more closely linked with signatures than legal? 

The list of documents that lawyers, solicitors, barristers and paralegals need to have signed or witnessed on any given day is lengthy — a daily deluge of case paperwork that can see 70-80 documents cross a lawyer’s desk or inbox every 24 hours. At least half of those require someone, somewhere, to sign on a dotted line.

Making the dotted line virtual can be a huge time saver for law firms and in-house legal teams. E-signatures eliminate the need to be physically present when certifying a document. They also automate a raft of manual admin tasks attached to creating, handling, sharing and managing paper legal documents.

The legal profession is evolving, with cloud and mobile technology making remote work more common. Even before COVID-19 turned office experiments with hybrid working into standard practice, virtual law firms were emerging, and the online legal services market was growing. From web platforms for collaborating with colleagues to video consultations with clients, lawyers have been making big adjustments to how they operate.

But obtaining signatures remotely is a problem most are still grappling with. How do you activate important, confidential legal documents when you can’t meet in person? 

Electronic signatures seem like an obvious answer, but there are additional questions. Are they legal? Are they binding? Are they hard to use? Can they be integrated with the practice management platforms firms and in-house functions have already invested in?

In this blog, we'll answer those questions, lay out the facts, and make the case for swapping ink-on-paper for digital.

Why use e-signatures?

The right e-signing solution can deliver three key benefits to legal teams:

01 They’re convenient and easy to use

Handling handwritten signatures on paper documents and agreements can be a complex and hugely time-consuming game of back-and-forth. Making signatures digital cuts out a series of go-betweens from couriers to mailroom staff and administrative workers. All of them can add time, cost and the potential for human error to the process. 

02 They accelerate case progress 

Even as face-to-face meetings with internal and external clients become common again, arranging physical gatherings simply to obtain signatures looks less and less like an effective use of time. E-signatures let lawyers get signatures virtually and move cases to conclusion more quickly.

03 They use less paper 

Whether you’re relying on legal document management systems like Juridoc or working where storage is limited, cutting back on paper reduces the risk of filing errors, saves space, and means less time spent flipping through cabinets filled with hanging folders. E-signatures keep your documents in the cloud. That’s faster, and greener too (if you sign up with SignRequest, we’ll even plant a tree).

Are electronic signatures legal?

The first question lawyers need answered relates to digital signature legality. Are electronic signatures legal and legally binding?

They are. In fact, they have been for a long time.

The US federal government passed the ESIGN (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce) Act back in 2000. It gave digital signatures equal status with handwritten signatures across the United States. 

In situations where US federal law doesn't apply, most states have their e-signature statutes, or they’ve adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which offers a state-by-state legal framework for using e-signatures and making them binding.

In the EU, e-signatures are recognised under the comprehensive 2014 eIDAS regulation designed to enable secure and legal cross-border digital transactions.

Five ways e-signatures simplify legal processes

01 Templates make document creation easier

With pre-approved templates, you can speed up the process of creating and approving contracts, agreements, letters, forms, orders, and other standard case-related documents. 

02 Advanced security keeps everything safe and confidential

Confidentiality is vital to legal services, and e-signatures enhance it. Every connection to a SignRequest server is protected by Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 256-bit encryption. Two-factor authorization and Single Sign-On ensures that no one is accessing documents or seeing communications who shouldn’t be.

03 E-signatures are legally binding

We can't stress it enough. E-signatures are valid under US and European digital signature legislation: eIDAS in the EU and ESIGN and UETA in the US. At SignRequest, we’re also ISO27001 certified — and SignRequest is committed to meeting our data protection obligations under GDPR.

04 It works with your practice management systems

SignRequest has a standard integration with legal tools like Juridoc, and with Zapier you can add e-signature capability to more than 2,000 cloud collaboration platforms, including Google Workspace, Slack, and M-Files. We also work with most document formats, from MS Word to Google Docs and PDFs. 

05 You'll have a detailed audit trail for every document you create and send

With SignRequest, you'll be able to see the current status of every document sent for signing, all the actions taken by senders and recipients, and when. Has a power-of-attorney document been opened, read, and signed? Is it sitting unopened in an inbox? You can schedule automatic reminders or prompt clients to take action. 

How to choose an e-signature solution for your legal team

Adding e-signatures to legal document workflow doesn’t have to be technically complex. The challenge is selecting the best option from all the potential solutions on offer. You’ll need to make a shortlist and carefully evaluate each one before making a choice.

You might start by looking at the top-rated solutions on G2 or Capterra to compare your options. Once you’ve winnowed down the list, ask these key questions:

Is it safe?

When selecting electronic signature software, look for tools built with internationally accepted security standards and compliant with major data privacy and security legislation like GDPR and CCPA. 

Is it easy to use? 

No matter the potential positives, if software is awkward to use or its functionality is hidden, it won’t deliver benefits. SignRequest aims for simple excellence — robust functionality through an interface that’s intuitive and straightforward for users at any level. Users rate us at 9.1 out of 10 for ease of use.

Time to sign on the virtual dotted line

E-signatures help legal teams streamline and simplify how they create, sign, and store legally binding documents.

From desktop or mobile, SignRequest empowers lawyers and their clients to sign legal documents from anywhere through a simple, user-friendly experience that better suits the realities of today’s digital economy.

Lawyers and legal professionals are already on the path to cloud migration and automation, finding new ways to innovate, adapt, and work smarter — in the office or at home. Secure, user-friendly, legally binding e-signature software from SignRequest can accelerate the journey, reducing the need for in-person meetings and freeing everyone to focus on core responsibilities.

Ready to make legal document processes digital from end to end? Choose one of our professional or business plans and take SignRequest for a test drive today.

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