Digitally Sign Legal Documents with the Click of a Button
Click on a button to digitally sign your documents! Graham.Law is proud to announce that we have implemented digital signatures (aka “E-signatures”) for all of our clients. You can now digitally sign all court forms we send you from the convenience of your computer or phone, and that e-signature is legally binding acceptable to courts and legally binding.
Covid Creates Digital Innovations
Desperate times call for desperate measures. During the Covid-19 pandemic, courts throughout the nation have changed the way they do business in order to keep people safe. El Paso County has closed the courthouse to most cases, conducting hearings remotely via Zoom, WebEx, or even telephone. People can get married via Zoom.
And yes, even standards for signatures have been modernized. In the past, governmental agencies and judges alike were pretty strict about requiring real signatures, although when Colorado courts moved to online filing, they would accept a typed signature as long as the attorney represented that the original signature was on file in the attorney’s office. But those types signatures were not real – it was basically a /s/ Carl O. Graham in the signature line – i.e. the attorney name in italics. This is really the digital equivalent of using an X as a signature.
In the early years after Colorado courts moved to judges signing documents digitally, I’ll never forget an experience I had with DFAS, trying to obtain records with an order digitally signed by the judge. DFAS rejected the order, as they required a real signature, and when I filed a request for a real signature with the court, providing that letter, the judge was completely unmoved, and said she was not going to change the way she did business for DFAS. In the end, it was easier to fight the DFAS bureaucracy to accept the digital signature than to get Judge Cisneros to change her order.
But for years, while courts would accept digital signatures, vendors were few and far between. And their services were expensive, cumbersome, and had caps on how many documents you could sign per month. So most of us adapted, with scanned signatures (perfectly acceptable, as long as the scan was good quality).
Judges are human (contrary to some popular belief), and realize that not subjecting people to needless risks was more important than having perfect signatures. So during Coronavirus, courts have been pretty lenient about accepting poor-quality scans which would have been rejected in the past, and even a typed signature.
Digital Signatures Thrive During Covid
Business offering services which let us work remotely have thrived during the Coronavirus pandemic. Zoom, for example, has seen its stock price quintuple in just a year. And yes, there has been a tremendous expansion of digital signature services.
Graham.Law has spent months researching and trying out various e-signature companies, and the ones with the best features were both expensive and limited signatures, while those with unlimited offerings were cumbersome to use. So we’ve done a mixture of changes to make life easier, using limited digital signing when possible, typing names, improving bad-quality scans clients sent to us, etc.
Enter HelloSign E-Signatures
Last month, we finally settled on a digital signature company – Hellosign (NOTE – they’ve been bought out by Dropbox, so are now Dropbox Sign). It integrates nicely with Google Workspace (the commercial version of Google Apps regular consumers may use), and allows digital signing of PDF and MS Word Docs. It’s got a lot of great features which we use behind-the-scenes, and from the end-user perspective, signing a document couldn’t be easier.
Upon receiving a document for digital signature, you can review the document on your computer or mobile device, then click a button, and sign it in one of three ways:
- Draw your name with a mouse or touchscreen.
- Type your name, and HelloSign turns it into a cursive-like signature, or
- Have a stored digital signature with HelloSign.
Upon everyone digitally signing a document, all signers receive a copy, and an audit trail. This audit trail contains a document ID assigned by HelloSign, and provides complete details of when each person viewed and signed the document, and provides the signer’s name, email address and IP address. It’s what separates the typed X from a real digital signature which is verifiable and protects everyone concerned.
Legality of Digital Signatures
Esignatures are legally binding under both federal and state law.
Federal E-Signature Law
In 2000, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act) was enacted. Codified at 15 U.S. Code § 7001, et seq, the act provides:
a signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form15 U.S. Code § 7001(a)(1)
Interestingly enough, there is an exception for family law cases, which the statute exempts from the requirement that states accept digital signatures. 15 U.S. Code § 7003.
Colorado Law on Digital Signatures
What separates a signature which is legal under UETA from a mere typed name on a document is that a valid electronic signature requires information to be stored, including about the signing process, and verification of the signers. This is the audit trail we mentioned above that all document signers receive.
Notably, however, UETA excludes court proceedings. Per C.R.S. 24-71.3-103, the UETA does not apply to “Court orders or notices or official court documents, including briefs, pleadings, and other writings, required to be executed in connection with court proceedings.”
E-Signatures & Colorado Court Rules
The Colorado Supreme Court came to the rescue when it implemented electronic filing. After all, when filing an electronic document, the concept of an original signature on a piece of paper is somewhat outdated.
E-filing in Colorado courts is governed by Colo. R. Civ. P. 121, Section 1-26. The section allows court pleadings to be signed digitally:
Documents Requiring E-Filed Signatures: For E-Filed and E-Served documents, signatures of attorneys, parties, witnesses, notaries and notary stamps may be affixed electronically or documents with signatures obtained on a paper form scanned.Colo. R. Civ. P. 121, Section 1-26(8).
What’s a digital signature? Not a mere typed name, but one which meets the same requirements as the federal and state statutes:
Electronic Signature: an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by the person with the intent to sign the E-filed or E-served document.Colo. R. Civ. P. 121, Section 1-26(1)(f)(I).
What does all this mean? Click a button to sign a document, instead of having to print it out, sign it, then scan or fax it back to us for filing. Digitally sign your retainer agreement with us, and all documents filed with the court, including Petition, verified pleadings, sworn financial statements, and more. Your E-signature is simple, quick, and most important, secure.
Graham.Law’s Digital Innovation Helps You
Digital signatures are just the most recent addition to our firm’s commitment to using cutting-edge technology, when it’s safe and practical to do so.
E-signatures using Hellosign join the rest of our digital team, which includes:
- Google Workspace (the commercial version of Google Apps) for email, calendaring, contacts, creating and storing documents, and the normal “office suite” stuff.
- Casemaker for online legal research.
- Secure Cloud Apps for child support worksheets, sworn financial statements. billing, etc.
- VOIP Phone System
- And more.
For more details about how the digital innovations used at Graham.Law are safe and easy, see this page.
Award-Winning Colorado Springs Family Law Firm
U.S. News & World Report calls Graham.Law one of the Best Law Firms in America, and our managing partner is a Colorado Super Lawyer. Our family law attorneys have years of experience helping clients navigate the Colorado legal system. We know Colorado divorce & family law inside and out, from complex multi-million dollar property or child custody cases to basic child support modifications.
For more information about our top-rated El Paso County family law firm, contact us by filling out our contact form, calling us at (719) 630-1123 to set up a free consult, or click on:
- Why Graham.Law for your Colorado Family Law Case. Learn about the benefits of hiring divorce specialists to help you.
- Our Colorado Springs Family Law Team. The great attorneys & paralegals at Graham.Law.
- Colorado Family Law Guide. The internet’s most comprehensive resource for attorneys and clients alike.
- Military Divorce Guide. Addresses specialized family law issues that arise when one spouse is in the military.
Colorado Family Law. Period.