The global legal services market is expected to reach $788 billion in revenue by the end of 2022, with the United States accounting for more than half of the market. However, despite its immense scale, the legal industry is still relatively archaic in many of its practices, especially when it comes to documentation and record keeping.
While many industries have experienced rapid digital transformation, particularly in response to Covid-19, law firms have been somewhat slow to adopt digital practices, relying heavily on paper and physical document storage – but why ?
Simply put, most law firms rely entirely on their reputation to generate new business and attract clients, which often reinforces any risk averse attitude they may have towards adopting new technologies. Additionally, law firms avoid spending time on non-billable work, such as installing new technology systems, because they don’t generate any revenue on their own.
However, this short-term mentality is a huge obstacle to sustaining businesses in the face of the inevitable wave of digitization.
The rise of electronic signatures in the legal sector
Despite the bureaucratic nature of the legal industry, one effective digital solution that is becoming more readily adopted is e-signature, which offers a plethora of benefits to law firms looking to streamline operations and improve efficiency.
Used on legal documents, contractual agreements and invoices, electronic signatures provide law firms with an easy way to connect remotely with their clients while reducing their reliance on paper documents. This, of course, is good news for those who prioritize sustainability.
For those unfamiliar, an electronic signature (electronic signature) is a symbol, usually a person’s name, digitally attached to a form, document, contract, or letter, demonstrating consent. It works the same way as a handwritten signature on a physical letter, except it gives law firms a lot more flexibility when working with clients, plus a bunch of other benefits.
The United States approved the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act in 2000, which, along with the former Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), establishes that electronic signatures are legally enforceable documents. if all parties choose to sign digitally. Additionally, electronic signatures are legally binding for virtually any business or personal transaction in the world, so there is no legal reason not to use them.
Streamline legal processes
Law firms can use electronic signatures to streamline legal processes in a variety of ways. For starters, regardless of their location, lawyers can now request signatures from clients. Customers from another state or even another country can prepare a document and email it to them for signature.
This eliminates bottlenecks in internal processes that typically arise due to scheduling conflicts caused by an attorney’s inability to meet with clients in person.
Second, with document signing and maintenance taken care of, law firms can shift their lawyers to more critical operations such as maintaining client satisfaction and focusing on billable work.
Faster onboarding with quote approvals
When onboarding new clients, law firms can use vcita’s price estimate generator to get immediate estimate approval. This allows attorneys to quickly establish their fees with new clients, including hourly rates, scope of work, and an approximation of total cost.
While it can be difficult to predict the fees for a case at this stage, the advantage of signing an estimate quickly is that customers are onboarded much faster because they will have already signed the agreement and terms of service.
Using the vcita system, you can attach additional documents to these estimates. Once a quote is accepted and signed, you can quickly start scheduling client appointments and even set up automated recurring billing to bill clients at the beginning of the month for all services performed during the month. previous.
Digital audit trails
Businesses using e-signature are less dependent on paper documents, allowing them to rely on digital document management to store and find what they need when they need it. This improves the visibility of organizational documents, allowing all parties who need access to documents to do so quickly and efficiently.
Additionally, digital documents contain crucial metadata which may include additional information about the eSignature transaction, such as who signed, date signed, place signed, etc.
All of this helps create a digital audit trail that optimizes operations.
Lower the costs
One of the most tangible benefits of adopting e-signatures is the cost savings it offers law firms. Paper documents are expensive to produce, organize and store – from a space point of view as well as from a human resources point of view, and this without considering the equipment and materials required.
Fortunately for law firms, adopting electronic signatures has resulted in cost reductions ranging from 55% to 79%.
Additionally, paperless operations reduce the risk of human error when signing physical documents. And, because digital documents are easily corrected, law firms can ensure a more seamless workflow from start to finish.
Protection of customer data
Businesses can use electronic signatures to store sensitive customer information on secure digital networks instead of conventional paper file systems, which are more difficult to maintain.
Document scanning prevents the loss, destruction or theft of papers and files, ensuring that customer data is always secure.
Additionally, it makes it easier for law firms to comply with regulatory authorities and privacy laws.
While there is no doubt that the legal sector is one of the most resistant to new technologies, it is obvious that electronic signatures can bring significant advantages to law firms. From streamlining operations to protecting customer data, it’s hard to argue against the usefulness of e-signatures, especially since they don’t require costly infrastructure upgrades or process radical digital transformation.
In most cases, electronic signatures simply involve using an inexpensive application that makes it easy to produce, sign, and store documents in a compliant manner. Not only will this allow businesses to work remotely with clients and speed up legal processes, but it will also lead to significant cost savings.