Law firm Synch pioneers new era of digital legal services
Nordic law firm Synch represents a new breed of legal service providers. Recognising the existing model for retaining the services of a lawyer was complicated and overly paper-based, Synch’s founders set out to create a new model that would be in “synch” with the digital era.
From its beginnings five years ago, Synch has been re-imagining the delivery of legal services. For example, it challenged the concept of the hourly retainer, which typically leaves clients unable to predict the total cost of their engagement, opting instead for fixed-fee engagements with predictable costs.
Synch has no partners; employees share in the profits. And, aligning itself with large corporations, Synch has business divisions versus areas of competency. Magnus Sundqvist is head of one such division, which simply doesn’t exist in the average law firm: Digital Services. He explains why it’s unique in the industry;
“Some firms have digital consultants, or even form a digital consultancy group. We have a business unit whose entire focus is to deliver digital services.”
Being digital-first presents an attractive career proposition for those with an interest in both law and technology: “We currently employ five lawyers who are also developers,” says Sundqvist.
Within the scope of his extraordinary team sit tools for increasing internal efficiency and for improving external client collaboration.
Eliminating contract friction
The team first turned its attention to eliminating a critical friction point for law firms: paper forms. Initially selecting a standalone local eSignature solution, the advantages of integrating eSignature into the HighQ platform where Synch employees conduct daily internal interactions and also collaborate with clients, were compelling. DocuSign consequently became the de facto eSignature software throughout the business, on the merits of its API-rich design and ability to integrate easily with other systems.
Soon, Synch lawyers were turning around standard letters of engagement online, in hours versus days.
Employee recruitment represented another quick win. DocuSign became a key part of on-boarding new employees for the HR department, with offer letters, employment contracts and NDAs all being signed with eSignature. The smooth experience meant a refreshing and enjoyable start to a relationship with Synch for new employees.
Next, Sundqvist’s team turned its attention to generating form-based efficiencies within new areas, including contract management and the official recording of annual general meeting minutes.
Introducing electronic ID verification
In Sweden and throughout Nordic countries, BankID is prevalent as a means of personal identification for online interactions. Citizens use BankID to verify their personal identities for transactions ranging from simple online payments to filing government documents. Under Swedish law, BankID plus electronic signature, representing an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES), is legally binding. And while this highly-secure form of transacting is required in certain circumstances, its trustworthy nature means that even when a BankID verification isn’t required, people often prefer to request it for the added reassurance it brings.
For Synch, introducing BankID verification into its client contracts via DocuSign Identify gave it a distinct and marketable advantage: “With DocuSign eSignature and DocuSign Identify together, we are in the enviable position of being able to offer services that are fast, easy and highly secure,” says Sundqvist.
Government forms made easy
To call out an example of where AES is proving valuable, Synch recalls a particular pain point of the past: registering new companies with Bolagsverket, the Swedish Companies Registration Office. This office mandates BankID verification for recording registrations electronically. And now, Synch is able to conduct this verification in an electronic workflow that dramatically simplifies the formerly laborious application process. Synch’s client base, which extends to all segments of the corporate world, includes a heavy representation of startups that are incredibly grateful for this easier way of getting their venture off the ground.
Annual general meetings communicated with efficiency
Another great example is the recording and sharing of annual general meeting minutes with stakeholders. These extensive communications need to be verified and signed by 52 people, in Synch’s case. It’s a process that took days to weeks before. “The last time, we got it done in a day,” reports Sundqvist. And, part of this is down to the simple fact that people can verify themselves and sign from anywhere.
When asked to recount stories of the most unusual places people have electronically signed a contract, Sunqvist confesses that these stories happen too often to be an exception.
However, he does recall an instance where a client reported signing a contract at 30,000 feet. Assuming he’d used plane wifi to simply click on a request to DocuSign an agreement, the firm was surprised to find out that he’d in fact reviewed, approved, authenticated, and signed a contract mid-flight, and with no problems.
“The DocuSign Agreement Cloud platform is entirely mobile-first, which means clients can verify their identity and sign contracts on the move in a way that is entirely consistent with the busy nature of today’s business world,” explains Sundqvist.
More about DocuSign Identify
Part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, a suite of more than 12 products and 350 integrations for modernising every stage of the system of agreement, DocuSign Identify automates ID verification as part of the signing process. The technology provides an iron-clad guarantee that the ID of the signer is the same as the intended recipient. For eIDs, this also allows the signer to go through a seamless process of authenticating themselves, using BankID for example, prior to gaining access to the document for eSignature. Synch was among the first in the world to go live with it.
In fact, such was the value Synch envisaged for its clients, that it had begun deployment only two days after DocuSign officially launched its agreement cloud platform.
For Synch’s digital services division, there’s no question of slowing down. The law firm is going from strength to strength with revenue tripling in the first five years, from 22 million to 60 million krona, and the team growing from 10 to 45.
In selecting partners to move forward into the future, Synch is glad to have found DocuSign, whose shared vision for digital transformation represents an ideal match for a company that’s changing the way legal services are delivered forever.
If you’re looking for more information on bringing business agreements into the cloud, take a look the this overview of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud.