Paperless law firms aren’t waiting just ahead on the horizon. They’re here, and thriving, right now. A growing number of service-based businesses, including law firms, are opting to do away with the filing cabinet and manage their legal documents and daily workflows digitally.
One of the many advances that makes a paperless law practice possible is eSignature. Whereas collecting physical signatures from clients used to require in-person meetings, today’s attorneys can save time and increase convenience for clients with secure signature links that can be completed from anywhere.
A brief history of eSignature
Cryptographers Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Len Adleman first invented the algorithm used to create basic eSignatures in 1977, but it was more than two decades before eSignatures would become a legal alternative to pen and paper. With the enactment of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act in 2000, digitally signed documents became legally binding. This made requesting eSignatures a viable prospect for law firms.
The move toward the paperless practice
In recent years, consumers have grown more aware of the option to e-sign. As a result, many legal clients now expect to review legal agreements and add secure eSignatures.
Rather than an advanced feature, eSignature and secure file sharing are now an industry norm. If you aren’t making plans to accommodate these new demands, you could fall behind competing firms with your client acquisition and retention.
6 perks of eSignature for law firms
Law firms that offer their clients the option to sign documents digitally enjoy the following benefits.
1. Fewer signing errors
There’s nothing worse than having to reprint a lengthy legal document because the client signed on the wrong line or realizing at the last minute that deep within a legal agreement, a signature was missed. These types of errors are frustrating on a small scale, but can also seriously disrupt your legal workflow when they occur across several client matters.
When you request client signatures via a secure eSignature platform, signing errors are minimized, if not eliminated altogether.
The right eSignature software for law firms can guide your clients and help them navigate through legal agreements. All of the areas designated for client signatures are clearly marked. Clients won’t be able to sign in the wrong area of the document, and you can even set up custom fields for documents with multiple signers, so that each person can only sign the fields assigned to them.
2. Greater security
Contrary to popular belief, eSignature technology offers more layers of security than sending legal agreements via email or the postal service. Specialized encryption tools, knowledge-based authentication (KBA), secure file sharing, and secure links protect clients’ data security and uphold the legal industry’s strict ethics and compliance regulations.
eSignatures don’t just protect clients’ data security online. Using digital document management and obtaining client signatures electronically means that legal documents are also protected in the event of a fire, flood, theft, or other physical threat.
3. Smoother workflows for attorneys
Don’t waste billable hours comparing calendars with your clients via phone tag. Making in-person appointments to obtain pen-and-ink signatures isn’t necessary with the right eSignature software.
With legal technology on your side, your attorneys can send a secure client signature request via email in just a few minutes, then move on to their next billable task.
4. Client convenience
Simplified legal workflows benefit clients, too. Few clients look forward to sitting in traffic to sign legal agreements. Even if they don’t have to head to your office to sign, pen-and-ink signatures can be a hassle when you consider the time it takes to print, sign, and scan or fax signed documents.
Secure eSignature software reduces the time clients spend reviewing and signing documents by 40%. No wonder 69% of respondents to one study stated that they anticipated continuing to utilize eSignature options over signing in person even after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease.
In short: adopting eSignature technology is one way to show your clients how much you value their time, convenience, and security.
5. Faster turnaround
Implementing secure eSignature tools at your law firm can drastically decrease the wait time for signed documents. Aside from minimizing the hours attorneys spend requesting and collecting client signatures by phone and in person, taking the digital approach diminishes turnaround times by 80%.
6. Lower costs
A single sheet of paper doesn’t cost much on its own, but office supply costs add up quickly when you consider just how many pages of legal agreements attorneys need to print (and reprint) in a day.
The average office worker in America goes through 10,000 sheets of paper per year. At 5 to 15 cents per page, the potential savings of switching to digital document management and eSignatures are significant. As an added bonus, cutting out all of that paper waste is a great way to contribute to the long-term health of the planet.
The validity of eSignatures
Despite these benefits, some attorneys remain concerned about the validity of eSignatures and whether they hold up as well as paper legal documents in court. Per the ESIGN Act, digital signatures are just as legally binding as pen-and-ink signatures, as long as the signing individual:
- Accepts a clause to conduct business electronically
- Is provided the option to sign with ink and paper instead
- Demonstrates a clear intent to sign
- Receives a copy of the completed document (along with all other signers)
In addition, the attorney must maintain a clear audit trail and/or record documenting how and when the client’s signature was obtained.
Streamline your legal workflows with Tabs3’s secure eSignature tools
As an industry-leading provider of software solutions for law firms, Tabs3 offers quick, convenient, and secure eSignature functionality powered by LexSign. Using Tabs3’s eSignature tools, your attorneys can easily send eSignature links to clients without ever leaving their email. Clients can easily input their signature using several convenient methods, such as drawing their signature with a cursor or typing it out. Thanks to LexSign’s powerful security features, you can rest assured that confidential client documents will remain secure throughout the process.
Tabs3 also gives your firm the tools it needs to cut down on printing and embrace fully paperless document management. With PracticeMaster’s customizable templates, attorneys can easily assemble common legal documents and automatically populate fields using client data that’s already been entered into the software.
PracticeMaster’s document management tools also make it easy to save and organize legal documents from common document software like Word and Excel, and our search feature allows you to reference any document in seconds. Intuitive document history features maintain a clear and readily-accessible record of who signed which document and when, allowing your firm to uphold one of the key validity requirements of the ESIGN act.
If you’re ready to see how Tabs3 can help you run a modern, paperless law firm, request a walkthrough demo with one of our product experts today.