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What is eSign and How to Do an Electronic Signature?

The history of contracts dates back to the first Mesopotamian settlements around 10,000 BC. Some historians even believe that writing itself was created solely for the purpose of having a solid purchase agreement on a piece of clay. 

As years passed, paper replaced clay for drafting a document, and so it was until the early 1990s and the first computers, that legal contracts started to move into the digital world.

Today, you can draft virtually any legal contract using a computer. Yet, while some people still print their contracts to sign them by hand, others discovered the benefits of electronic signature. The ability to sign the contract electronically has helped many lawyers forget about wasting endless amounts of paper on printing a 100-page MSA just for the sake of putting an autograph on it.

What is an electronic signature?

An e Signature, or electronic signature, is a digitalized variant of a handwritten signature that guarantees the signatory’s identity. Just like a handwritten signature, e Signature consists of a person’s name or title, and is pasted onto a contract in order to legally bind it.

You can sign virtually any type of document format with an electronic signature and it will be recognized as a legal document so long as the author of the signature is verified and there is proof that the signed document hasn’t been modified after it was signed.

An e Signature, or electronic signature, is a digitalized variant of a handwritten signature that guarantees the signatory’s identity.

There are 3 types of electronic signatures, each with their own set of requirements and, thus, the amount of legally binding power:

There are 3 types of electronic signatures, each with their own set of requirements and, thus, the amount of legally binding power:

  • Simple electronic signature offers the lowest level of security and can be done by sending a scanned copy of a contract via email, or an account with a username and password, where the identity of the signee cannot be verified. Accepting Terms of Agreement or Licence Agreement by clicking the ‘Accept’ button is also considered a simple electronic signature.
  • Advanced electronic signature offers a higher level of protection for your legal contracts and has to meet the following requirements:
    – It links uniquely to the signee
    – The signee can be identified
    – It allows the signee to retain control
    – Any subsequent change of the data is detectable after the signature
  • Qualified electronic signature follows the same requirements as the advanced electronic signature. However, you can sign the contract using only a qualified signature creation device, and the signature has to be based on a qualified certificate. Usually, a qualified electronic signature is generated using National Identity Documents, and is stored on encrypted devices for maximum protection.

Since every type of electronic signature is appropriate, it is up to you to determine the level of protection that you want to have for your contracts.

Electronic signature vs. digital signature

A digital signature applies cryptographic mechanisms to the content of the digital contract. Simply said, it s a piece of code attached to a document. It helps the verify the signee’s identity and the content of the document. 

Digital signatures are not present in simple electronic signatures, but remain an essential element of advanced and qualified electronic signatures.

Digital signatures are legally recognized, but since their intention is to provide enhanced security and not certify the intentions, a digital signature does not have a legal status.

Digital signatures are legally recognized, they do not have a legal status.

Benefits of electronic signatures

An electronic signature is a digital replacement for virtually any handwritten signature, with a couple of extra benefits:

  • Save money. Forget about loads of paper, gallons of ink and ridiculous printer maintenance bills. Sign contracts electronically and help your business go green.
  • Be more efficient. Get your contract signed faster, it only takes a few clicks.
  • Sign contracts remotely. Forget about in-person meetings. Sign contracts anywhere, from any device. No need to be in one room, or even in the same country to seal the deal.
  • Integrate with automated workflows. For example, when your client eSigns a non-disclosure agreement in AXDRAFT QuickDocs, you can automatically send them a sales proposal or your SOC 2 report.
  • Keep it secure. Store electronically signed contracts in a cloud and they’ll never get lost, stolen or compromised. In addition, eSignature guarantees the identity of signatory and integrity of the contract.
  • Improve customer experience. Many clients view contracts from their phones, and being able to sign a paper with one click will greatly improve their desire to work with you.

You only need to create e Signature once and use it everywhere. We live in an innovative world, time to innovate your legal operations.

Electronic signature for remote lawyers

Recent years have shown lawyers that they can also adapt to a digital world, and reap all the benefits of remote work just like everyone else. The key to success for remote lawyers is the ability to develop successful habits, be innovative, and provide great remote customer experience for clients.

With the help of technology, such as document automation and contract management software, lawyers saw new opportunities in remote work. It offers flexibility, less stress, and more opportunities to focus on important work wherever they feel comfortable. Working remotely, lawyers can make better use of their billable hours, start everyday fresh by simply avoiding traffic, and save more time to dedicate to their personal life.

All they need to do is find the right technology partners to help them tackle daily challenges with zero friction.

There’s plenty of tools that a law firm and legal department can use that make your legal team accessible anywhere, and electronic signature is just one of them, albeit one of the most important ones. 

How to use an electronic signature?

To create an electronic signature, you can:

  • Draw your signature using a mouse, touchpad or a touchscreen
  • Upload an image of your handwritten signature
  • Type your signature using a keyboard and select the best matching font

There’s plenty of software providers that offer eSign services, and each has their own service package to fit your business and personal needs. DocuSign, AdobeSign, HelloSign are just a few of them.

Each of the above mentioned electronic signature providers can be used separately, while some of them can be integrated with your document workflow automation software. AXDRAFT, for example, supports DocuSign and AdobeSign integration to help you speed up the signing of your contracts.

Aside from providing third-party integrations, AXDRAFT lets you sign your contracts with a built-in eSign feature to help you spend even less time and money to take care of your contracts.

The process of signing a contract with AXDRAFT Sign is simple:

  1. Click E-sign to sign the contract from your side 
  2. Add other signatories who need to sign the contract 
  3. Place their signature spots inside the document 
  4. Send the document to respective signatories 

Here’s what signing a contract in AXDRAFT looks like with AXDRAFt Sign:

With a built-in eSignature solution you won’t have to worry about having multiple accounts for different types of software to have a fully automated contract lifecycle.

Conclusion

It took the world several thousand years to move from loan arrangement on clay tablets to digital contracts drafted by computers in seconds and stored in a secure cloud. Before, clouds were only meant to carry rain and thunder, after all 😂 

With the pandemic slowing down, the legal world begins to understand the comfort of remote work and, with all the tools provided, reap its benefits. However, it is easy to get lost in the multitude of all the useful software for law firms and end up spending a fortune instead of saving one.

Electronic signature is one of the most useful tools for remote work for lawyers, as it lets you take one last step in sealing the deal without leaving your desk. It is now up to you to choose the eSign service provider that is right for you or choose the integration offered by your contract management software.

Or you can choose AXDRAFT with a built-in electronic signature service, and enjoy even more automation for your contracts.

Try our instant demo to learn more.

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