DLA PIPER is a global law firm with offices and lawyers in more than 40 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East. The organisation provides a wide range of legal services, including corporate law, finance, litigation, intellectual property, real estate, employment law, tax, and regulatory compliance to multinational corporations, governments, and individuals. DLA Piper has a mission to be the world’s leading business law firm, delivering the best legal services possible to its clients by being both entrepreneurial and innovative. Implementing DocuSign eSignature has been an important step on this journey, enabling the organisation to advance its digital transformation by simplifying the documents agreement process, and by empowering its lawyers to prioritise legal advice over administration.
Digitising legal agreement processes with DocuSign
Coupled with its eSignature use, the organisation chose to use DocuSign's Digital Signature solutions to help with the attainment of Qualified (QES) and Advanced (AES) Electronic Signatures, which offers higher levels of signer assurance for online transactions by requiring customers to electronically identify themselves during the signing process.
The legal profession is built on long-established methods of working and is very traditional in its execution of duties. As a result, the industry remains heavily reliant on paper-based processes. Heidi Harban, Senior Legal Technology Manager at DLA Piper explains, “I think a lot of my law firm colleagues will agree that digital change within the legal profession is a challenge just by nature of the legal profession being very traditional, and our stakeholders being time poor.” Prior to working with DocuSign, client agreements and legal documents for signing at DLA Piper would be printed and sent via mail, courier, or in some cases physically handed to clients, or scanned and emailed. Regardless of the method of delivery, papers would require a wet signature by the recipient before being returned by post. As a result, lawyers spent a considerable amount of time on administration and not focusing on their primary role, that of advising their clients. This resulted in a slow adoption with as little as 50 envelopes created in 2018 and 2019.
The main driver of change came in the form of the COVID-19 global pandemic when lawyers needed to use DocuSign eSignature to complete transactions. With the closing of offices and the need for employees to work from home, lawyers and paralegals had to pivot how they worked almost overnight. DocuSign enabled the business to continue operating through an incredibly stressful period.
The organisation did not define metrics for success when deploying DocuSign eSignature. Rather, it saw an opportunity to streamline processes and speed up the overall agreement value chain for clients and employees.
However, the impact of the pandemic on ways of working speaks for itself. With as little as 50 envelopes created in 2018 and 2019, DLA Piper saw an incredible uplift in DocuSign eSignature because of the pandemic’s influence on workflows. In 2020 alone, the business saw a 50-fold increase in the use of DocuSign eSignature envelopes, a staggering increase in usage. For DLA Piper the use of DocuSign eSignature is now an everyday part of the working process, as Heidi Harban states, “Now that the world has gone back to this strange new normal, people are continuing to use DocuSign eSignature. Now they are comfortable using the tool and have integrated it into their lives, they don’t want to go back to old ways of working.”
DocuSign eSignature defines new ways of working
DLA Piper is a values-driven enterprise that strives to make a difference for its clients. It identified how introducing digital processes into the workflow of its operations would enhance customer experiences and increase business efficiencies. To achieve this, the organisation has created a DocuSign Centre of Excellence, whereby a dedicated team of around 40 paralegals handle the administrative burdens around setting up documents and agreements for signing. This not only builds smarter workflow efficiencies into the business, such as offering 24/7 document support but allows the lawyers to focus on offering legal advice to their clients.
Beyond process streamlining and the inherent cost-savings benefits that brings, DLA Piper has also seen how DocuSign's eSignature and Digital Signature Solutions helps support wider sustainability aims within the business. As Heidi explains,
DocuSign eSignature defines new ways of working
DLA Piper is presently using DocuSign eSignature across 12 of its jurisdictions but has expansion plans to use DocuSign across all areas of its business. It has seen the most benefits from using DocuSign eSignature across its corporate and finance projects, where the tools are the most frequently used.
The business believes that its journey with DocuSign is only just beginning. It is already looking at future digital initiatives and how it can integrate DocuSign into wider systems and processes with the tools in its stack. The organisation is exploring how Microsoft Teams or Microsoft 365 integration will drive better data and analytics insights, while integration with other tools will enhance document and transaction management initiatives.