Posted by on February 20, 2017

AI, electronic contracts and automation will be standard for most lawyers in the near future. Are you ready?

Electronic contracts, digital signatures and automation processes are amazing. I can’t get enough of them (that’s why I love looking at Future Law trends). But, these futuristic contracting ways definitely aren’t for everyone. How do you know if electronic contracts will work for you? How do you know if you are ready for electronic contracts?

Read over the below, if any of these sound familiar, you probably aren’t ready for electronic contracting.

YOU USE YOUR PHONE MAINLY FOR PHONE CALLS

Not that there is anything wrong with phone calls… your phone can do so much more though! If you aren’t using the myriad of productivity apps available (my faves include Nozbe, Focus at WillCoggle, Evernote, If this then that (IFTTT), and Last Pass), you probably aren’t ready to sign documents on your phone on the go.

Tell me you have a cordless phone though, right?

YOU THINK STAND UP DESKS AND OPEN OFFICES ARE A FAD

Or… maybe you haven’t even heard of stand-up desks (bless!). Sitting down and a sedentary lifestyle (i.e. not moving much) causes so many problems for office workers. If you wonder why you feel crap at the end of the day, it’s because you’ve been sitting down the whole time!

If you think these new ways of working are going to pass and you want to keep your cubicle or office or swivel chair, you aren’t ready for the mobile collaboration of electronic signatures and automated document creation.

TIMES NEW ROMAN IS YOUR FAVOURITE FONT

TNR is dead. Move to a Sans Serif (that means without the extra bits at the ends of the letters) font. Or at least upgrade to Georgia or Garamond.

Studies have shown that on a computer screen, Sans Serif fonts are easier to read, easier to understand, results in a more modern view of the text and many other benefits.

If you’re still hanging on to TNR, there’s no way you’re ready for modern day contract automation and electronic contract processes.

THERE’S A FAX NUMBER LISTED ON YOUR BUSINESS CARD OR EMAIL SIGNATURE

Ahhh faxes. So much fun to send and receive a fax. If you’re old-ish (like me) you will still remember the sound of a fax machine, humming in the distance. In fact, I still get a bit of a giggle about them.

These days, you can get an email address that turns faxes into scanned PDF email attachments (if you aren’t sure what those underlined words mean, click on each of them for a Wikipedia explanation… bless your cotton socks!).

Every now and then, you will receive SPAM faxes offering you coffee machines, holidays or other amazing deals… via fax! I think these fax machines must be locked in a basement somewhere from the 90s and are stuck on repeat somehow.

If you’re inviting people to fax you, there is no way you’re ready to sign documents within emails.

YOU PRINT OUT EMAILS

Give the trees a break. Learn to love the digitised word. If you’re printing out emails, highlighting them, filing them away in folders, writing emails back to people, printing out your reply… not only are you wasting paper but you’re stealing time from yourself and your company. Skill yourself in reading digitally – you’ll have many more hours in the week.

If you can’t read on a screen, you can’t be ready for automated contract life cycles. If you still think wet ink & paper signatures are the most secure, you aren’t ready for geo-located & time stamped electronic signatures.

YOU HAVE A 30-PAGE GUIDE TO EXPLAIN YOUR 40-PAGE CONTRACT

Drafting up an “easy to read” guide for your extremely confusing & unfriendly contract does not make you a forward-thinking lawyer. Whilst it is at least a step in the right direction to care about explaining a confusing contract, the real forward thinkers focus their time to make the actual contract itself easy to read and use.

As Elon Musk says “Any product that requires a manual is broken.”

If you aren’t ready to optimise your contracts so they are readable & actionable, you aren’t ready to hand the reins of contract creation over.

How did you go? Are you ready for DocuSign, Concord, eSignLive, or any of the other electronic contract applications?

If you answered NO to most of the above, then you might be ready to start creating forward thinking, productive contracts.

Then, head to the Checklist Legal Tools and Templates page for free templates you can use.

Or check out my eBook – ‘Secrets of Productive Contracts: How to think digitally and write paperless contracts for a faster future’. 

Disagree with any of the above? Let me have it, hit the comment button and tell me what I go wrong.

– Verity

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