Using DocuSign, Hello Sign, and Similar Tools for Signing Contracts


Businesses today must embrace technology to streamline processes and boost efficiency and productivity. One key advancement has revolutionized the way business contracts are signed: electronic signatures. Understanding the significance of electronic signatures on contracts and how they can benefit your organization is helpful. Let's explore the legal framework for electronic signatures, including the impact of the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act ("E-Sign Act") and specific laws in California and New York.

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Legal Validity of Electronic Signatures under the Federal E-Sign Act

The E-Sign Act, enacted in 2000, is a federal law that sets the groundwork for accepting and recognizing electronic signatures in the United States. Its primary purpose is to ensure that electronic records and signatures are as legally valid and enforceable as their traditional handwritten counterparts. The E-Sign Act applies to both consumer and commercial transactions, offering a consistent legal framework that transcends state boundaries.

Key Aspects of the E-Sign Act

Consent to Use Electronic Signatures. The E-Sign Act requires that all parties involved in a transaction consent to use electronic signatures and records. Consent can be obtained through various means, such as a separate agreement or implied through the parties' actions.

Consumer Disclosures. For consumer transactions, the E-Sign Act mandates that businesses provide consumers with clear and conspicuous disclosures regarding the use of electronic signatures and records. Doing so helps ensure that consumers know their rights and can make informed decisions.

Right to Withdraw Consent. The Act grants individuals the right to withdraw their consent to use electronic signatures and request paper documents instead. Businesses must accommodate this request without imposing additional fees or penalties.

California's Approach: Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)

Like most states, California has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) to regulate electronic signatures within its jurisdiction. UETA, initially released by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, provides a consistent legal framework for electronic transactions, including contracts. It ensures that electronic signatures are as legally valid and enforceable as traditional handwritten signatures.

Key Aspects of UETA in California

Legal Recognition of Electronic Signatures. UETA in California establishes the legal equivalence of electronic signatures with traditional handwritten signatures. This recognition applies to both commercial and governmental transactions, bringing uniformity and consistency to the use of electronic signatures in the state.

Voluntary Adoption. UETA in California operates on a voluntary adoption basis. Parties are free to choose whether to use electronic signatures, but once they opt to do so, the Act validates the enforceability of electronic contracts.

Consent and Attribution. UETA outlines requirements for valid electronic signatures, ensuring that the electronic manifestation of a person's intent to sign a document is attributable to that person.

New York's Approach: Electronic Signatures and Records Act (ESRA)

New York's law addressing electronic signatures and records is known as the Electronic Signatures and Records Act (ESRA). Enacted in 1999, ESRA validates the use of electronic signatures in most transactions, reinforcing the legal standing of electronic contracts in the state.

Key Aspects of ESRA in New York

Broad Applicability. ESRA applies to electronic records and signatures used in various transactions, except those related to wills, trusts, adoption, divorce, and other family law matters.

Record Retention. ESRA sets forth requirements for businesses to maintain electronic records, ensuring they are accessible for future reference and compliance with legal obligations.

Integrity and Attribution. ESRA ensures the integrity of electronic signatures and requires that they be attributable to the document's signing.

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Benefits of E-Signatures and Compliance with State Law

Convenience and Speed. The legal recognition of electronic signatures, including compliance with state laws like UETA in California and ESRA in New York, enables businesses to expedite contract execution, saving valuable time and effort.

Enhanced Security. With advanced encryption and authentication measures, electronic signatures offer a higher level of security than traditional signatures. Compliance with state laws ensures that businesses meet necessary security standards.

Cost Savings. Adopting electronic signatures in accordance with state laws can significantly reduce administrative costs related to printing, paper, postage, and storage, providing a more cost-effective solution for businesses.

Global Reach. With legally recognized electronic signatures, businesses can collaborate internationally, extending their reach to partners and clients worldwide.

Best Practices for Implementing Electronic Signatures

Choose a Trusted E-Signature Provider. Select an e-signature service that complies with federal laws like the E-Sign Act and adheres to state-specific regulations, such as UETA in California and ESRA in New York.

Establish Clear Consent and Intent. Ensure all parties involved understand and consent to the use of electronic signatures in accordance with the respective state laws.

Keep Record Retention Policies. Comply with state and federal regulations on record retention to ensure legal compliance and proper document management.


Embracing electronic signatures on contracts is a progressive step for businesses in the digital age. By adhering to the U.S. E-Sign Act and state-specific laws like California's UETA  and New York's ESRA, organizations can unlock numerous benefits, including convenience, enhanced security, cost savings, and global accessibility. You can leverage the power of electronic signatures and still comply with applicable law. Doing so will propel and protect your organization toward greater efficiency and success.


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I have become very impressed with the efficiency possibilities of AI. So, I gave ChatGPT a try. I generated this text in part with GPT-3, OpenAI's large-scale language-generation model. After it generated its own draft language, I reviewed, edited, revised, and expanded on it to my own liking and to ensure accuracy in all material respects. WLF takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this article.


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