Electronic Signatures Made Easy

Probably one of the most important things we do as lawyers is make sure that documents, pleadings, declarations, affidavits, contracts, and other documents are signed by the relevant parties or ourselves.

While security and authenticity of signatures is always an issue, there are ways to deal with those issues as a matter of available technology, even from your iPhone or iPad.

One of the apps I just came across recently is Autograph by the makers of the Pogo stylus.  This app is extremely easy to use and is able to integrate itself with pdf documents and other documents which can be electronically signed.  Autograph also allows you to e-mail or save any signatures that you generate from your end or where the client has provided an e-signature to you.

I really like the simplicity of Autograph and would like to see some security features added soon.  I highly recommend that you check out this app for yourself.  An example of my own signature is just above the YouTube video above.  Once you get a feel for the stylus, it is very easy to get your signature into electronic form.

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Microsoft Office 11 for Mac — Looks Good

Office Mac 2011 is definitely an upgrade from the 2008 version.  Among other things, the user interface has improved dramatically.  The various tools and tabs on the ribbon are useful and intuitive.  In fact, I would claim that the Mac version is better than the Windows version.  I still have to figure out the ribbon UI in Windows and gave up long ago.  One of my favorite additions to the Office Suite is the “Notebook” template, which is very much like the Notebook offering made by CircusPonies.com, without any significant cost differential.  Most of the templates are more on the consumer side and I am looking forward to seeing if my Windows-based pleadings templates will be compatible with the Mac version.  Another key issue will be looking at the ease of being able to insert tables for exhibit lists, witness lists, or for demonstrative courtroom exhibits.  The Powerpoint program seems equally intuitive and the interface is clean and understandable.  Again, the templates are are little simplistic, but easily tailored to meet the needs of a trial lawyer preparing a presentation with use of video clips from a deposition, pdf exhibits, images, and interactive elements. The spreadsheet element of Office is what one would expect and offers a number of good templates, including invoicing, timesheets, and other useful tools for the legal profession.  Finally, I really like the smooth interface between SkyDrive and the Suite.  I have been using SkyDrive or its predecessors for some time and have enjoyed the remote accessibility to my files, especially during trials and travelling.  SkyDrive also makes it easy to share files with clients, which is becoming more important as cloud-based technology develops.  All in all, the suite is just one more reason to justify the transition to Mac as an office tool.  While many of us in the legal world are stuck on Wordperfect, this offering may just be the reason to finally break the chains so that lawyers can more easily interact with clients (most of whom use Word).  I give this new version of Office a 9.5 out of 10.  If there were templates for pleading, I’d give it a 10.  For additional reviews see, TechRadar.com and ZDNet.com.  For an article on whether it’s worth your time, money and effort to upgrade your present office suite, you can see this MacWorld article which does a good job of speaking to this issue.


RCBA Magazine Tech Issue

Here’s a link to the October 2010 edition of Riverside County Lawyer Magazine wherein my colleagues provide a wealth of information on electronic privacy issues, professional standards on technology, public records, and other stories concerning technology and the practice of law.  Consideration is given to what happens if you lose your IPad or other device with respect to client information, how medical privacy works, and how public records can be acquired (including e-mails, etc.).  A big thank you to the authors of this edition of our local bar magazine.