E-Signatures #1 – the Marmite of the Legal World? Product update

The concept of esignatures has been widely discussed in the legal world for years. Yes, they are potentially very useful in situations where the alternative is printing off a document, physically scanning it and then adding it back into a PDF bundle.
However there are also some distinct legal concerns association with them – the main one being how do you know the person “esigning” the document is the person they purport to be? And then there is all the confusion over the different types of “esignature” – does it need to be backed up by key encryption, why can’t I just use Adobe and even why can’t I just add as JPEG of my signature to a document?
In this two-parter we start with a round-up of the latest esignature product and channel news, then (in part 2) we have a comment piece on esignatures by Ken Moyle of DocuSign…
eSignDirectc• Manchester-based legal IT developers Cubia have announced a major new feature for eSignDirect – the new release of eSignDirect (v3) allows documents to be created and sent to clients directly from within Microsoft Word*. All e-signing platforms currently available today require the solicitor to log-in to a web-portal in order to upload and send documents to clients. This often means three different pieces of software would be needed just to get a document signed. Firstly, the CMS to create the client, followed by Word to create the document, followed by an e-signing platform to send the document. To simplify this process as much as possible, many firms choose to spend a lot of time and money integrating the e-signing platform and their CMS.
The problem with integration for most e-signing platforms is that it can be a very long and very costly procedure to perform, sometimes taking up to a year to complete. eSignDirect however, by being the only e-signing platform designed specifically for use in the legal industry and by having an open API as standard, is extremely easy and cheap to integrate by comparison.  Now however, Cubia have gone one better with an exclusive new feature which means a law firm need not spend a penny on software integration. Lead Designer Chris Lea explains: “With eSignDirect v3 it can now operate as a plug-in within Microsoft Word, so the solicitor can get documents sent and signed from within the comforts of their existing systems. The e-signing process is now part of their existing, familiar workflow. There’s no need to open a web portal to send your documents – you simply stay in Word.
“In addition, the fact that it now operates within Word itself means that there is actually no need for integration. We can get you up and running in just one working day. We’ve had a great response from the beta testers so far and we’re hopeful that it will cement eSignDirect as the best choice for all UK law firms.”
North West-based firm Nesbit Law Group have been using eSignDirect for several months now. Ian Moorhouse, Associate at the firm:“We’ve been using it for a little while now and we’re delighted with the time it is saving us on cases, and we’re always striving to use it on more cases each month.  We’re very much looking forward to using the MS Word plug-in, which should make it even quicker and easier for our staff.” *Currently the plug-in supports MS Word 2007 and 2010. Word 2013 & Office 365 support coming soon.
• Linetime has announce that the latest addition to the Liberate Case Management systemis an interface to the Adobe Echosign facility allows documents to be signed within the “cloud” then automatically stored within the case history. As well as providing a paperless option for client engagement forms, contracts and other documents, the efficiencies this link provides can drastically reduce the requirement for face to face meetings – a bonus for both parties. As well as the obvious green credentials in cutting down the volume of paper, the interface provides an accurate and permanent record of exactly who sent what and when. This level of audit greatly assists practices in managing their risk and compliance.
Linetime say there is a new generation of customer out there that expects to be able to transact via the internet. Businesses also expect modern processes and efficiencies as part of the service. This link provides exactly that. The Adobe system has gained widespread approval in the US, UK and EU states. In many ways it is regarded as a more secure method of authorisation than a traditional signature. There is no cost to the end client and all they need is a valid email address. The system takes care of the rest. Documents can be sent for signature with a single click or even sent by automated workflow. The progress and status of submissions can be checked and the end result is automatically attached to the file. Users can be notified by various means that a signed document has been returned including the ability to automatically trigger further workflow.
• ARX, the developers of the CoSign digital signature solutions, and Phoenix Business Solutions, global provider of innovative software solutions and consultancy for professional services firms, have teamed up to create the CoSign Connector for HP Autonomy WorkSite.
The CoSign digital signature solution allows WorkSite users to maximize the benefits of their investment in automation without requiring them to make any changes to the processes and workflows they already have in place. By completing the automation of their signature-dependent processes and moving to fully paper-free workflows, they can further streamline their operations and reduce costs.
With the easy-to-use CoSign system, WorkSite users no longer need to revert to paper each time the need for a signature arises. They can easily and quickly sign Word and PDF documents by simply right-clicking on the document in their WorkSite document library and selecting “Sign with CoSign.” They then go through the simple process of adding a signature field, selecting their desired signature properties, and signing the document, which can be saved in their WorkSite library. All documents signed with CoSign can always be easily verified for signer identity and intent, as well as content integrity, by any recipient using widely available applications such as Microsoft Office or most PDF readers.
“Once again CoSign is helping to preserve our customer’s prior investments in enterprise applications, in this case WorkSite,” said John Marchioni, ARX VP Business Development. “Phoenix has done a great job making CoSign features seamlessly available to WorkSite users which will no doubt result in broader user adoption and overall satisfaction with the WorkSite solution.”