In many working environments today electronic signatures have become a common practice in the United States and around the world. Digital signature technology was invented in the 1970’s as a solution to sending secure uncrackble messages. Electronic signature, or eSignature, covers the full range of technologies and solutions used to create signature in an electronic from, from digital signature technology to simple images of a signature attached to an electronic document.
What is an electronic signature? Electronic signatures are legally binding in most business and personal transactions in almost every country in the world. The US Federal ESIGN Act defines an “electronic signature” as an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.
After doing some research regarding eSignatures I’ve found the following instances of how they are being used in Law Firms, Corporate Legal Offices and other Industries in today’s work place. eSignatures have been supported in numerous court rulings over several years and are typically more enforceable than paper. eSignatures allow for a reduction in time spent on administrative task as far as printing, faxing, scanning and overnighting documents to your clients. Additionally, you save on actual postage costs. Your clients will be able to sign the documents online in minutes of it being completed.
Attorneys are now able to send some of the following agreements and legal documents to their clients. Here are a few examples of how eSignatures are being used in today’s working environment.
Retention & Fee Agreements
Power of Attorney Agreements
Merger and Acquisition Agreements
Wills, codicils, and testamentary trust
Adoption, divorce agreements
Court orders or notices, or official court documents
Electronic signatures are rapidly become the de facto standard in business and consumer transactions. As the cases above illustrate, electronic signatures offer real benefits when the technology used is designed to comply with key requirements including those in the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the Federal E-Sign Act.
Here are just a few rulings that support electronically signed documents.
- Pavlov v. Debt Resolvers USA, Inc., 907 N.Y.S.2d 798 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 2010)
- Newton v. American Debt Services, Inc., 854 F.Supp.2d 712 (N.D.C.A. 2012)
- Derrick Fenley v. Rite Aid Corp., 2014 Cal. Super. LEXIS 156, *5-6 (Cal. Super. Ct. July 2014)
- Woods v. Vector Mktg. Corp., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121165 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 28, 2014)
As Jenni Bergal from Pew Charitable Trusts writes in “Courts plunge Into the Digital Age” : “Many courts are moving to electronic processes. In many states, court documents can now be submitted electronically, creating significant efficiencies for everyone who works in the courthouse, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars. So far, at least two dozen states have implemented statewide e-filing for attorneys, mostly for civil cases, according to the National Center for State Courts. In 2012, the Texas Supreme Court mandated e-filing for all civil cases statewide on a rolling schedule and the state is now seeing cases from start to finish that never touch paper.”
With the digital transformation continuing I expect to see more and more courts and other government agencies accepting eSignatures.