ADLS innovates – WebForms platform integrates new Digital Signing Service

ADLS has long been the trusted authority in the provision of legal documents, with its well-known WebForms platform offering many of New Zealand’s most widely used legal forms and precedents.

Rebuilt and relaunched last year, WebForms supports over 1000 firms, enabling thousands of legal professionals to use and customise more than 100 legal form templates, including the popular Agreement for the Sale and Purchase of Real Estate and the Commercial Deed of Lease.

ADLS is now adding to that experience and expertise by introducing digital signing to WebForms. In a world where technology is constantly evolving and impacting on the practice of law in new ways, ADLS’ application of cutting-edge technology to the process of signing documents marks a significant step forward for the legal profession, and will bring a new level of efficiency to the relationship between lawyers and their clients.

ADLS regards digital signing as a key investment in WebForms’ future, and an important part of its role in leading the legal profession and ensuring practitioners are equipped with the necessary tools for practice.

ADLS President Joanna Pidgeon notes that the introduction of digital signing will transform how lawyers and clients work together:

“As a practising lawyer, I know meeting clients face-to-face will always be important. But, as people’s lives become busier, digital signing will mean increased efficiency of the document signing process, as well as greater convenience and cost-effectiveness. Documents no longer have to be couriered across town or to different parts of the country for signing – it can be done anywhere, at any time, on any internet-connected device, including mobile phones.”

To develop and launch the new service, ADLS partnered with Kiwi-operated, Cloud-based digital signing provider, Secured Signing, which delivered many of the standout features of the service. These include a number of robust and unique security protocols, such as real time online verification of the identity of signatories and witnesses, using RealMe or a New Zealand passport/driver licence.

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The technology also allows for key documents to be digitally negotiated and countersigned, with a digital signing log capturing all signing interactions, and providing an audit trail of the signing process. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital certificate technology secures and seals the document and signatures.

Tim Jones, the immediate past Convenor of ADLS’ Documents & Precedents Committee, comments that digital signing was a natural next step for the WebForms platform – and he considers it very appropriate that ADLS be leading the way. He also points out that having the right checks and balances in place is vital, which is what makes the ADLS Digital Signing Service the pre-eminent version in the market.

“ADLS has been doing legal forms since goodness knows when, and we have grown used to them as a very useful tool. But many of us now deal with clients over the phone or by email a lot of the time, and they can’t always come in to our offices to get things signed. Digital signing will make that much easier.”

Importantly, non-ADLS documents can also be uploaded into the WebForms system to be digitally signed, in addition to the standard forms already available. “That means, if I sat down in Auckland this afternoon and drafted a deed, I could get it signed by a client in the North Shore instantly, without either of us having to trawl backwards and forwards,” observes Mr Jones.

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He also stresses the advantages of the Digital Signing Service’s identity verification and digital certificate capabilities:

“With traditional signing, you may not always capture all of the required information as to name, date, etc. – any number of times you see documents that come back which aren’t dated, for example. Here, all of that will be done within the system – there is a tidy electronic trail, which can later be used as evidence of when and where the document was signed. In many ways, that’s actually more powerful than an ordinary, handwritten signature.

“However, people do need to make sure that they are choosing the right technology. Because ADLS has done so much work on this, lawyers and their clients can be confident with this new service. It needed an organisation like ADLS to deliver digital signing, and ADLS has been very careful to work alongside lawyers to make sure that the technology meets their needs.”

A comprehensive education programme, including an On Demand video, online User Guide, Practice Notes and Protocols document, and demonstrations to law firms, is planned to educate users on how best to use the ADLS Digital Signing Service. Click here for more information, or contact the WebForms Helpdesk on (09) 303 5283. 

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