Electronic Signatures for Legal Documents - a Q&A with DocuSign and iManage
The webinar features Michele Mabilia, Product Marketing Director at Docusign. Josh Gertner, an associate at Taylor Wessing and Jack Shepherd, the Legal Practice Lead at iManage. Josh chats with Jack about the benefits of using iManage for legal teams. Jack also provides a demo of Closing Folders and the iManage transaction management solution that leverages DocuSign functionality.
Electronic Signatures - what are they, and are they legal?
Michele Mabilia, Product Marketing Director at DocuSign, says, “Electronic signatures deliver a way to sign documents in the online world much like we sign documents with a pen in the offline world. An electronic signature can have as much value as a handwritten signature and fulfil the same functions, such as identification of the signature. An electronic signature can often be the first step in a company’s path towards going paperless.”
In the last two years, DocuSign has seen a huge acceleration in the adoption of electronic signatures. Michele says, “ we have been fortunate to have been able to help our customers navigate the shift to remote work, and provide solutions to help keep the businesses moving forward - the majority of customers have realised that they don't want to lose these new, more flexible and better ways of working.” Lawyers are often concerned about legally using an electronic signature. Electronic signatures are legal and enforceable under the laws of the European Union and the United Kingdom, even after Brexit. The EIDAS regulation aims to enable citizens, businesses and public sector bodies to carry out convenient and secure electronic transactions across EU borders. The regulation enables mutual recognition and acceptance of electronic identification schemes across EU borders. It establishes a common legal framework for an array of trust services, including electronic signatures, electronic seals, time stamping, electronic registered delivery services, and authentication. DocuSign meets all the requirements and makes it easy for law firms to support their compliance obligations with regulations and business policies. A document signed using DocuSign eSignature comes with court-admissible evidence and robust audit trails in the form of a certificate of completion, which provides the details, timestamp, and email address of the envelope recipient IP addresses for all devices used to access and sign and a range of more advanced identity proof points. This security ensures electronic signatures are safe.
Finally, DocuSign also meets the most stringent security and privacy regulations globally, such as ISO 27001 certification and GDPR. DocuSign also complies with digital signature laws in the UK, Europe and across the world. There are three types of electronic signature, simple, advanced and qualified electronic signature. Jack asked Michele about the benefits of using the Advanced and Qualified Electronic Signatures and when we should be looking to use those. Michele says, “It's one that I always get asked, and for most use cases, a simple electronic signature is sufficient. However, some transactions in certain countries in heavily regulated industries or with government entities may require or prefer digital signatures that offer a high level of identity assurance and security. This is why DocuSign offers a wide range of identity verification and authentication solutions.” For example, in the UK, HMLR recently started a pilot for using Qualified Electronic Signatures.
Using Closing Folders and DocuSign for Legal Documents
Josh Gertner is a lawyer and corporate associate at Taylor Wessing - and he has been using Closing Folders and DocuSign to drive many of his transactions. He says, “When I started as a trainee, the modus operandi was a word format or documents list where you'd agree on the documents you were putting together for the deal. There would be many columns, including the ‘Status’ column, of who is responsible for this document. You’d have to show a documents list at any given time for the project to your client and to the lawyers on the other side to see who was holding the deal up. Then ‘Closing Folders’ came along. If you use the platform and upload your documents throughout the deal and manage your signing process within the platform, the ‘closing section’ element of the work is easy and can be done instantly. From my perspective, it has kind of reimagined the way that the whole deal gets done. One of the most value add features of closing folders is the ability to have everyone on access the platform live. So you can invite people to view or edit or comment. If you're only comfortable having people in your firm look at the document, they can oversee what's going on. If you're comfortable having full transparency for your clients and other lawyers, they can see where the deals are in progress. There's lots of flexibility within closing folders, so you can sign in the traditional way if you want to, but for the vast majority of signatories, it's much more organised. And it's the expectation, particularly among our kind of tech focus clients, that their deals would be done in tech focus way. You can just pull out the signature pages and send them to individuals to sign by DocuSign, but you can also give the full execution. You can safely execute deeds using closing folders and DocuSign.”
Josh says the software is hugely helpful for significant transactions with hundreds and hundreds of documents. You can make sure all of the documents you need are selected - so some parties get all documents, and others get the elements of the transaction they are involved in. Josh says, “Having everything in one place transforms the way you are able to work with partners, associates and clients.”
To learn more about the legal transaction management software iManage and the integration with DocuSign, access the full webinar and see a demo with Jack Shepherd, the Legal Practice Lead at iManage.