Just Sign Here—Or Anywhere, Really: Why E-Signatures Are a Game Changer for Law Firms
The story behind John Hancock’s huge, flamboyant signature across the bottom of the Declaration of Independence is one of the most well-known tales of the American Revolution.
According to legend, Hancock placed his gigantic signature dead center at the bottom of the document while exclaiming that everyone from governmental ministers to King George himself would be able to read his name without glasses.
While the story is almost certainly not true, the fable has become such a part of Americana that it’s completely normal for someone to request a signature by saying, “We just need your John Hancock here.”
Ever since the 16th and 17th centuries, when literacy became more common, western governments have used personal signatures to formalize legal documents. The practice remained largely unchanged until email and the internet introduced a new type of John Hancock—the e-signature.
What are e-signatures?
In 2000, Congress passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act, which granted digital signatures the same validity associated with their traditional pen-and-ink counterparts as long as the signer:
- Demonstrates a clear intent to sign
- Accepts a clause to conduct business electronically
- Is provided with the option to opt out of e-signing
- Receives, along with all other signers, a copy of the completed document
Additionally, there needs to be a clear audit trail or record documenting the processes that resulted in the signature.
The use of e-signature software became common after the ESIGN Act passed but exploded after COVID dramatically increased the number of people working remotely.
In fact, nearly 69% of respondents to a recent study say they will continue to choose e-signature programs over in-person signing even as pandemic restrictions ease, and the global market for e-signatures is expected to hit 26.6% CAGR between 2021 and 2030.
Law firms aren’t the only businesses utilizing this technology, but the dramatic impact electronic signatures and paperless operations can have on legal workflows cannot be overstated.
Thanks to e-signature programs, it no longer matters if you, your clients, your opposing counsel, or the other signatories are in the same city. And you can say goodbye to those last-minute, speed-racer drives to the FedEx dropbox with the latest cut-off time for overnight delivery.
E-signature software yields an average 80% reduction in the time it takes businesses to get documents signed, with turnaround times going from five days to 37 minutes. And businesses aren’t the only ones who save time—the time clients spend viewing and signing documents can be reduced by 40%.
With e-signatures, your team no longer has to find a time that all parties can come in and sign important contracts. Instead of spending several hours (or days) on multiple back-and-forth emails and phone calls, staff can spend a few minutes on one email and then move on to their next task.
A few sheets of paper aren’t necessarily expensive, but law firms need a lot more than just a few sheets. With the massive amounts of document handling legal practices have to do, the 85% reduction in document handling costs that can come from support for e-signatures can add up to significant savings. Plus, you’re helping the environment! Win-win.
Improved accuracy (both for signatures and filing)
Companies with e-signature capabilities can reduce signature errors (signing in the wrong place, returning partial documents, etc.) by 80% and processing/scanning errors by an average of 92%. And because documents signed electronically have to be delivered digitally to all signees, using e-signatures can cut down on lost files by 66%.
Besides convenience and time savings, one of the most important benefits of supporting e-signatures is enhanced online security.
Because law firms almost always have access to their clients’ sensitive information (personal data, proprietary information, intellectual property, trade secrets, etc.), they’re often victims of cyberattacks.
And it’s not just large firms that are in danger of getting hacked. According to a 2019 Verizon study, small businesses are a primary target for hackers. Even though 57% of small business owners think they’re too small to be attacked, small businesses make up 43% of all data breaches.
Almost all e-signature programs utilize encryption and tools like knowledge-based authentication (KBA), secure file sharing, and secure links when sending documents back and forth. Using these internationally accepted security standards gives your clients much greater protection than they get with a standard email, not to mention exponentially more security than documents sent through the postal service.
What to look for in an e-signature program (and why ours is the best)
Data security capabilities are the paramount concern when choosing an e-signature software. You need to be able to send and receive encrypted documents, store documents securely in the cloud, implement role-based permissions, and create paperless paper trails that detail a file’s history.
Besides providing accepted cybersecurity standards, the e-signature program you select needs to work for you and your clients. The best programs have an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that seamlessly integrates with your existing programs.
And guess what?
Thanks to our partnership with ImagineShare, clients who purchase the Premier Tier of Rocket Matter’s legal practice management platform can do all of that and more.
Unique even among e-signature programs, ImagineShare allows you to create and securely share e-signature documents from your own email address. Because spam and phishing attacks via email have resulted in filters that regularly send emails from unknown senders straight to the junk folder, this feature is critical to realizing all the e-signature benefits we listed above.
In addition to powerful e-signature capabilities, our all-in-one platform provides robust document management tools including:
- Encrypted file-sharing services
- Document digitization and organization
- Increased document accessibility thanks to cloud-based storage
- Third-party integrations with other document management programs
All integrated into your existing workflows, with no need to use a document portal.
Sign up with us so your clients can sign anywhere
Rocket Matter revolutionized the game when it comes to legal practice management software.
With an impressive array of business intelligence, case and document management, billing, and time tracking tools, the addition of e-signature capabilities is the next step in our commitment to delivering the best technology to our clients so they can deliver the best service to theirs.
If you want to see the difference Rocket Matter can make for your firm, let’s talk.