The Digital General Counsel: An Interview with Reggie Davis
The digital age has brought the world unprecedented amounts of opportunity – opportunity for cleaner, faster, easier experiences with tangible business outcomes that speed progress and facilitate digital commerce. For the legal profession, in addition to improving the client experience and expediting turnaround times, a digital transformation can also facilitate more comprehensive compliance.
Reggie Davis, DocuSign’s general counsel, helps drive acceptance and adoption of electronic signatures and digital transactions around the globe. A graduate of Tulane School of Law, Davis has been recognized by Silicon Valley Business Journal as “General Counsel of the Year,” and led DocuSign’s team to be named “Most Innovative Legal Team” by the Financial Times of London.
Today, he offers his insights on how making the digital transformation can benefit business and legal professionals on multiple levels.
You are a champion of digital transformation, but some still see it as a risky proposition. Why is that?
Paper has been around for thousands of years and its widespread use for writing stretches back to the third century. When you think about an incumbent in a category, there is probably none more entrenched than paper. While the comfort level with paper is high, especially in the legal profession – digital is far superior as it is easier, faster, more convenient and secure for lawyers and their clients. So much so that we are seeing mass migration starting to happen across the industry.
How does trust come into play? What does trust mean to you?
Trust is at the center of what we do at DocuSign. Paper is trusted because it's known and it's familiar. Trust in the digital world has multiple components, each of which needs to be addressed for a digital solution to be fully embraced.
My experience talking to General Counsel and business leaders demonstrates inquiry in the following ways:
- Is my data information safe in the cloud? Is it protected from bad actors who may abuse it?
- Is my information private? When I store information in the cloud or I provide information to service providers, are they using this information to sell me products or to profile me in ways I'm not expecting?
- Is access to my data reliable? Is it easy or easier to access than storing something in a paper filing cabinet?
When people feel comfortable that their data is safe, truly private, and always available for their use, then they are more open to all the great benefits of going digital such as a better user experience and a faster, easier, more convenient way to do business.
What do the legal functions at enterprise organizations and the attorneys at law firms need to know about digital transformation?
That done well and done properly, digital transformation actually increases efficiency and reduces cost and risk – both within the Legal team and across the entire organization.
I think people inherently understand the great experience and efficiency benefits because their personal lives are generally immersed in digital. They use apps (not maps) when they drive around town, they bank online, and certainly communicate via email and social channels instead of traditional postal mail.
Legal professionals are realizing that these experience and efficiency benefits extend to the enterprise while at the same time reducing risk.
Related to compliance, there are a couple key areas where digital transaction management shines:
Delivering record integrity: Being able to put data and documents in a tamper-evident container that adheres to security-certified standards. With DocuSign, our capabilities include advanced tamper-sealing, providing the assurance that the protection of their information meets the highest standards (as evidenced by third-party audits) and also provides evidence that their data has not been altered in any way.
Providing clear attribution: With clear attribution, a link is enabled between an individual and their role in a transaction. With DocuSign, we provide an audit trail that includes timestamps, IP addresses, and other transaction details. This detail allows for a high level of granularity and offers evidence related to every element of the transaction. Further, we offer measures of protection like multi-factor authentication that includes options like one-time passwords, phone authentication and knowledge-based authentication among others. These measures provide additional gates for people to clear to ensure they are who they say they are. This is not available with paper.
What do you see as DocuSign’s role in trust and transformation?
Our role is to be great stewards of sensitive data and provide a superior service, so that trust increases and rapid digital adoption continues. We focus on enhancing trust in many ways… Through our core product features and capabilities, to the way that we communicate with customers and partners, to our participation in raising the quality bar for digital transaction management alongside other trusted brands contributing to the xDTM Standard Association.
Given the serious nature of your business and your focus on trust, how do you unwind?
I have the good fortune to have four boys at home who are flat out fun and entertaining. Keeping up with them is a joy and a challenge! I also head down to New Orleans for the Jazzfest every spring, to soak in some great music and fantastic creole food. I trust that I will have a good time every year – and New Orleans always delivers.