Posted 21st January 2020
This paper is a summary of a larger report ‘The Financial and Environmental Impact of Digitising Paper Documents in the Legal Industry’, conducted by the University of Liverpool and E-Sign (UK) Ltd.Download
The Law Firm that participated in the study is a UK 100 law firm (referred to as ‘The Law Firm’).
Over a 12 month period, after digitising the sending and receiving of new ‘matters’ to new and current clients, The Law Firm has made the following savings:
E-Sign provides a secure digital identification embedded into an electronic signature that is unique to both the signatory and the document. The document is then securely stored within an encrypted document storage facility located in the UK.
The Law Firm digitised their document processes with a focus on the digital sending of “matters” to new and current clients, including the Terms of Business and the Letter of Engagement. To achieve this they used E-Sign (UK) Ltd.
A major issue in the legal sector is the administrative time, cost and effort to produce paper-based documents, and the delay in clients returning the signed document.
When organisations digitise the document process, it can result in a 30-50% increase in process productivity and a 3 to 10 fold reduction in turnaround time. The new document process with use of electronic signatures follows the flow chart below, where the turnaround time is between 1 and 3 days.
Since using E-Sign and adopting the digital document process described above, The Law Firm has made savings in a number of areas which are outlined below.
The Law Firm saved approximately 1.4 million sheets of paper over a 12 month period. These paper savings were made by:
By sending documents electronically a saving of £11,740 was made in paper procurement. As a result of the reduced usage of paper there were significant CO2e savings:
By digitising their document process and using electronic signatures, The Law firm significantly reduced the requirement to print documents to be sent to clients for signature. As a direct result of eliminating the printing of 1.4 million pages, The Law Firm saved an estimated £105,000 on printing costs.
Savings based on the cost to send one “matter” at £2.60 (£1.60 for the actual letter and £1 for a stamped addressed envelope).
The Law Firm produces 18,000 new matters a year
N.B. These figures don’t include stationary costs or the cost of resending letters due to
delays, errors, or lack of client engagement.
The reduction in CO2e as a result was 471 kg over the year
Savings are based on each archive box storing 2000 sheets of paper, and being stored for the minimum of seven years as per regulatory requirements, at a cost of £149 per box per annum.
With a total saving over seven years of £730,100
The Law Firm through the use of electronic signatures was able to significantly reduce the time spent on document administration, saving approximately 50% of the time previously spent on the various tasks outlined in the traditional document process above. The average salary for administrative staff is £17,000 per annum (www.payscales.com),
therefore savings of £8,500 per administrator with a total saving of £17,000 for The Law Firm.
N.B. These figures do not include time savings or reduced cost from increased document turnaround time
The carbon emission reduction is a direct result of replacing a paper based document
process with a digital document process using electronic signatures.