Sign Documents Electronically with Echosign

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Electronic signatures are becoming increasingly popular. Federal courts accept electronic signatures, state courts are starting to accept them, and businesses are using them to execute contracts.

If you are considering using digital signatures for your practice, try out Echosign.

How it works

First, you need to upload a digital copy of a contract to Echosign’s website. Then, the site will send an email to your recipient. The recipient has a variety of signature options. They can sign with an e-signature. It also looks like their cursor can turn into a stylus, which allows them to “write” their actual signature in digital form. The downside with this option is that it requires a paid plan. Recipients can also print out the document and fax back an actual signature page, which is not nearly as cool.

It also looks like the site supports electronic signatures from mobile devices. Unfortunately, I cannot find any specific information on the site, other than a short reference in the demo video. That said, digital signatures from a mobile device looks quite promising.

Should you use it?

In depends. If you operate a paperless office like us, it has limited utility. If I need a digital signature, I simply scan something with my ScanSnap s1500 and email or fax it to the recipient, who can send it back the same way.

For example, if a client needs to sign a retainer, I can email them the retainer, they can sign it and send it back, and then I will sign it, scan, and send them a copy. I also do not need to go through a third-party website.

That said, if you are not incredibly tech-savvy, Echosign could be quite useful. You can do up to 5 transactions a month with a free account. After that, there are a variety of pricing plans. As noted above, if you want an original “biometric” signature that requires a paid plan.

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  • Randall,

    This is actually a bizarre subject to me. I would love to be enlightened on what constitutes an electronic signature and moreover at what point is its validity to be questioned? For example, I run Acrobat Pro that allows me to create signature fields that can then be filled by anyone using Acrobat Reader. The signature is unique to that user and is created from their computer. Isn’t this a valid electronic signature? I mean it seems much more traceable than say, the common “I declare that I am the person who’s name I just typed” that we see used all the time. (Of course IP address and other data I assume is collected at as part of the “actual” signature).
    The other one that I often use is basically a GIF file of my signature. I have associates that also use tablets or ipads to sign documents with a stylus or with their finger.
    All of these methods seem legitimate. Banks often send out checks with a stamped signature (nowadays just a printout). To me the risk of forgery in any of these uses is just the same as the old fashion signature.

    I guess this lead to my ultimate question. Are we looking at companies like echo sign because they provide fraud protection that we never had before, or are they just making a dollar on our fears of electronic security?

    Thanks for the always great content.

    wre

  • Acrobat Pro is a great solution if you just need to sign a document yourself, and it’s 100% valid for sure. Where it doesn’t work from a business process perspective is when you want to send out a contract to get signed (e.g., a sales contract or an offer letter) to someone. This is where the value principally is — closing customers much more easily, on the web, instead of by fax or FedEx. Jason Lemkin, ceo, echosign

  • Randall Ryder

    @ William – I am certainly no expert on the topic and the bulk of my experience using electronic signatures is through ECF and simply scanning signed agreements and then emailing them. As Jason points out below, I do think there is some utility to using Echosign, given that many people do not have Acrobat Pro. Arguably, Echosign is easier to use.

  • dan x. nguyen, ESQ.

    I use echosign to retain clients. It reduces the obstacles the clients need to sign up with me, and I think it’s great!