November 6, 2020

Signing by E-Maila writing is a writing is a writing

D.C. Toedt has published two reports of deals signed by having the two sides reply “Agreed.” by e-mail, the first in September, the second just today. I corroborate. As long as you’re not doing a kind of deal that’s specifically subject to special signature rules, closing this way is fine. I have done it myself, for deals where I was a party. I have occasionally been able to help clients do it.

This sounds in many themes.

One is the universality of writing. There’s nothing magical about any particular way people write words. Why can’t we just put the text of our drafts of terms in e-mails, too?

Another theme is the hubris of “legal technology”. Why do we need apps and services specific to legal signature, like DocuSign? What’s insufficient about the general-purpose tools we have? We didn’t really need law-specific pens, law-specific handwriting, or law-specific paper. Do we really benefit from inhabiting a parallel technical universe of law-specific products, processes, and services? Do clients benefit?

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