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Electronic Signature – Holding Back the Paperless Office

Electronic Signature – Holding Back the Paperless Office

With environmental concerns on the rise, the incentive for a move towards the paperless office looks set only to increase. The advent of the digital age has seen the paperless office transform from a speck on the horizon to a very tangible and near reality.

The electronic signature is considered by many to be the final frontier, but for businesses in industries such as the legal sector, this last leap is the most important step.

Let’s take a look at what electronic signatures are, why solicitors have been slow to embrace them, and when we can expect them to be the norm.

What Are They?

Electronic signatures are the digital equivalent of the traditional, handwritten signature. These might be typed, scanned, or created using cryptography.

As with most things in the digital world, there's a range of different electronic signatures out there today, each with a differing level of credibility. Across the range, there are varying levels of security tying the signature to the origin.

What's Holding Electronic Signatures Back?

With electronic document management so prevalent in our offices, it seems surprising that electronic signatures are taking their time to find their feet. While some business leaders have already declared their readiness to embrace the new technology, thereby harnessing them to streamline their services, not everyone is convinced.

The main worry is around security - a crucial concern for the legal sector. Some solicitors remain concerned that electronic signatures can be too easily tampered with, or otherwise abused. The truth is that the security of electronic signatures is reliant upon the business processes they are implemented around. Secure technology exists for solicitor firms willing to invest.

What Are The Key Benefits?

As with all paperless directives, the ultimate goal of the electronic signature is to reduce the environmental impact of businesses around the world. While the vast majority of business processes can now be handled digitally, the final hurdle is the signature, which still requires the use of paper for most companies.

It's not only an environmental issue, however. Electronic signatures also hold the ability to accelerate communication processes dramatically. A digital signature saves time, which could speed up lengthy legal processes and help solicitors do their jobs more efficiently – not to mention the cost-saving benefits.

The electronic signature is the final piece of a puzzle that electronic document management companies have been building for some time. In addition to the savings and enhanced productivity it can bring, this global movement can connect solicitors with clients from different corners of the globe. 

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, secure electronic signatures are the next step for legal firms looking to go paperless and embrace the digital revolution. With a hugely positive reception from other commercial sectors, the only thing standing in the way of electronic signatures today is common perception. As professional culture adapts, the loop of digital and paperless technology looks set to close for the first time.

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