The “Customer Spotlight” series shines a light on DocuSign customers who are benefiting from improving their business processes with electronic signatures.
Law firm, Linklaters, deployed DocuSign to allow its clients to sign remotely and relieve lawyers of unnecessary admin. We talked with some of the company’s decision-makers about how DocuSign is supporting the company’s digital ambitions.
Can you give us an overview of Linklaters?
Mark Nuttall, partner: Linklaters is an international law firm with 2,500 lawyers working in over 29 different offices in 20 different countries. We are, we consider, one of the leading global law firms.
Why is it important to do business digitally at Linklaters?
Mark: It’s important for Linklaters to do business digitally because we are always looking for ways to innovate for our clients; providing a better service for less money. One of the great advantages of doing things digitally is the time saving on record keeping and compiling, and it saves fees on what is actually quite low-grade work.
Peter Hudson, associate: Everything is going digital. When you talk to people about what we could be doing in 10 or fifteen years, the idea of having to email PDF signature pages around is just completely ridiculous. Everyone is always looking to make their life easier, and the kind of clients that we work with are usually at the forefront of that.
What motivated Linklaters to implement an eSignature solution?
Mark: The practice of signing, before DocuSign, was frankly a bit archaic. There is no doubt under English law that eSignatures are a valid way of executing both simple agreements and deeds.
George Gooderham, counsel: The two major benefits of electronic signatures, generally, are 1) the signatures are free from the need to be in the office and 2) the cost-saving.
How did you first hear about DocuSign?
Mark: I actually first heard about DocuSign outside of the contacts of my professional life but in my personal life. When I was signing a lease, I was expecting to have to consign my morning to printing out faxes, signing, scanning and then sending them back. And I was actually delighted, and I am rarely delighted, to find that I just needed to click a few buttons on the screen, and then those documents were signed and, not only that, but I had a record of them. So rather than scratching around in my emails when I then need to find those contracts again, they’re readily available on the web.
In what departments is Linklaters using DocuSign?
Mark: The use case for DocuSign at Linklaters is a lot like that of my personal experience of signing a lease. When a client is wanting to complete the transaction, to sign the transaction, they don’t want to be hanging around in the Linklaters meeting room. They don’t want to have to be standing by the scanner in their office waiting for the green light. It’s much easier if they have the ability to sign wherever they need to, knowing that they can apply their signatures to the documents, knowing that they are the right documents, the latest version of the documents.
From our side as lawyers, the platform tells us when each person has signed the document and when the document been fully signed. The ability for the platform to tell us that rather than to have to manually check it saves us a lot of time and money.
George: There are certainly parts of the firm, particularly in my case, the finance practice, where signings do become time pressured and do drag on beyond normal business hours. There are also multiple documents with multiple parties, which means the process of producing those collated originals is time-consuming, and that’s where I think DocuSign can really make a difference.
Elaine Cleevely, group secretary: I’ve used DocuSign for several transactions, but specifically for one involving clients that were in a different part of the country. For them to be able to sign, it would have meant several of their clients coming down to London to do the physical signing of documents. It was quite a small transaction, so it would have been particularly uneconomical from the client’s perspective and DocuSign made it very easy and very efficient.
What made DocuSign stand out to you at Linklaters?
Mark: What DocuSign, as a platform offered us, was, firstly, support and time from the DocuSign team to come in, talk to us, work out a little bit about our business and how the platform could fit with what we were doing. Because much of what DocuSign does is about a high volume of signings, whereas what we at Linklaters do is about a high value of signings, for a much smaller volume. As part of that, people expect more of a bespoke approach, one that is tailored to their organisations, and we found DocuSign very accommodating; listening to our concerns and also talking to our clients about things like security and convenience.
On the subject of security, how important is that for Linklaters?
Mark: Security is an absolutely vital part of the process because, especially with new technology, people need to have trust in it and they are initially very wary. The security that is perhaps most important is knowing that the documents can’t be accessed, that they can’t be hacked, that there is no sort of leakage about the documents and that confidentially is preserved between the parties.
Peter: We know that the clients have signed it, when they have signed it, and how they have done it. That is really good for us to know that the right person has done it in the right way. That is what we are always trying to achieve.
From an employee point of view, what has been the feedback from the people using DocuSign at Linklaters?
Mark: Internally, DocuSign has been welcome as well. The reason for that is people don’t want to become lawyers to deal with administration of signing documents. They want to be involved, and use most of their time in the negotiation, working through the complexities, the structuring. So, anything where technology can be used to streamline peoples’ jobs and free up their time and energy, is really welcome.
Once people have got through the nervousness of something new, and new things are challenging for people, then actually it’s perceived as an exciting new thing and people like to see how the organisation is differentiating itself from others. Signing in a smooth, streamlined, processed way with DocuSign, rather than the old-fashioned way, is a great thing to be part of.
Peter: Everyone saves time and everyone’s happy because they can see that the deal has been done in the right way with the right documents, signed at the right time, by the right people. Fantastic.
What has the customer feedback been like?
Mark: Since I’ve started working with DocuSign, the clients that have decided to adopt it have been frankly delighted. Being here in this process where people can sign at their convenience produces a much smoother process.
Elaine: I think the biggest benefits from a client point of view are the time and efficiency gains. As I mentioned before, the fact that they don’t have to physically come down to the office for all the parties to meet together is great. Logistically, that can be a nightmare. And the fact that it is so efficient from the Linklaters point of view, I think that the most significant thing is the time factor. And from a lawyer’s point of view, and a client point of view, time automatically relates to money. Because obviously the lawyers are being costed out per hour and therefore it will be cheaper to the client as well in the long run.
What advice would you offer to other firms considering a move to electronic signatures?
Peter: The reason I’d recommend using DocuSign is simply it makes deals work better. So, if you make the signing process work really well, really efficiently and iron out all those usual things — like which version do people sign, when do they have sign them, where do they to go — the more you can reduce that, the better the signing process goes, and the faster it feels. The reality is that when we use DocuSign, it works better.
Elaine: I think that DocuSign is the way of the future for signing documents. With clients being so diverse it’s definitely something that companies should really consider using, as it makes everything so much quicker, easier and convenient for the client.
Thanks Mark, Peter, George and Elaine for your input!
Hear fisrt-hand from the Linklaters team about the law firm’s use of DocuSign: