How to work with your law firm for electronic contracts

Yesterday I spent an hour teaching our lawyer how we create electronic contracts. Not only will switching to electronic contracts save me a lot of headaches, it will also save our company a lot of billable hours. Plus I love our law firm and what they have done for us, so it is a pleasure to spend time being helpful to them.

If you want to do the same with your lawyers, here is a simple three-part guide:

  1. Get them comfortable with the idea by showing them our page on electronic signatures. E-signature legislation has been in place in the European Union and USA for close to ten years now but the practicalities are not widely understood. Our page mentions all the acts your lawyer will need to know about for you
  2. Show them how to edit a document online. We use a private-label version of Google Documents for our internal documents, but other vendors exist, including the wonderful Zoho, which GE provides to all its employees. There are three benefits from this. First of all, there is only one version of the document, so no one is ever unsure if they are editing an old draft. This problem cost billable hours with our previous law firm. Second, version tracking is built-in so you lawyer can see what changes you made, and spend time looking at those changes rather than rereading the whole document. Third – something I personally like although few others do – Google Documents has fewer features than Microsoft Word does. For me, that means less time spent on frilly formatting and more on useful content.
  3. Upload that document into an e-signature service like EchoSign or RightSignature. We use the former but both of them integrate with Google Documents and make sending, tracking and signing contracts a breeze. As we are the due diligence phase with investors what I like the most is that all our contracts are stored in one place. Not only did we avoid the pains of collecting the documents for due diligencd, we also look professional to our suitors.

Our lawyer was so pleased she is now introducing EchoSign to their other clients. Go on, be nice to your law firm and show them our page on electronic signatures.

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