Using Countersign in real world situations by lawyers – a case study

May 04, 2020

This article was written by an actual Countersign user.

One of the benefits of Countersign is its versatility – it can be tailored for any type of legal agreement. It is especially useful for form agreements that are used routinely with slight modification. Countersign can easily assist with this and other real world situations by lawyers.

For example, I exclusively use Countersign for clients who sign my engagement letter. The engagement letter is rarely modified, other than for the client’s name and date. I’m able to keep a template of my engagement letter on Countersign’s platform and each time I have a new client, all I need to do is modify the date of the letter. The entire process takes less than a minute to accomplish. 

My colleagues who are in-house attorneys also find Countersign useful. One of the more routine ongoing tasks for in-house corporate counsel is the signing of NDAs with new business counterparties. With Countersign, they can keep the company’s standard NDA form on file and simply modify the date and party names each time they send an NDA out to a new client.

Countersign is an extremely helpful organizational tool for legal teams who have dense workflows of standardized contracts. 

If the engagement letter, NDA or other form agreement does need to be modified (for example, if I agree to a flat rate for a project with the client), it’s simple enough to just upload the revised document and send it out in lieu of the standard form I have on file. Highly negotiated agreements that always stray from a template, such as purchase agreements, are also easy to upload for signature each time they are done being negotiated, making Countersign the best solution for real world situations by lawyers.

Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the legalities behind e-signatures and is wondering whether an e-signature is just as binding as a hand-penned signature, the answer is a resounding yes! There are several U.S. and international laws that address the validity of e-signatures. 

A federal law that was passed in 2000, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“ESIGN Act”), “facilitate[s] the use of electronic records and signatures in interstate or foreign commerce.” The ESIGN Act provides that a document “may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation.” In addition, most States have passed the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which is generally similar to the substance of the ESIGN Act. Notably, New York has its own rules under the Electronic Signature and Records Act, but New York’s rules also give e-signatures the same legitimacy as wet ink signatures. 

Electronic signatures are also given validity under various international laws, such as the Electronic Signature Directive in the EU, the Electronic Communications Act in the UK and the E-Commerce Act of Mexico. Legal practitioners should be aware that there are a few documents where an e-signature alone is not sufficient. For example, documents such as wills and sworn declarations, or documents that require a notary or witness. 

In many ways, electronic signatures actually confer some advantages over often illegible wet ink signature squiggles with no additional contextual evidence of signing. Countersign’s process leaves an audit trail so you can see when the document was looked at, signed, and the IP address it was signed from. Countersign also has security and encryption features that authenticate the identity of the signatory via their unique email address and that ensure the document being signed has not been altered or replaced. 

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