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Sign Here, Here & Here: The Signature Packet

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January 01, 2018

The First Year Associate

This post is part of our First Year Associate series, where we’ll provide explanations to simple issues faced by first year corporate associates. We’ll focus on the basic problems that you might be embarrassed to ask a senior attorney. And if you already asked, the answer was so brief it provided just enough context to bring you here.

Unless you are reading this post from the future, you will inevitably be asked as a junior associate in an M&A, venture capital or other transactional practice to create a signature packet and have it signed by one or more parties. So let’s start with the obvious questions you may have:

  1. What is a signature packet?
  2. Why does my client need one?
  3. How do I make it?

What is a signature packet?

A signature packet is a PDF document containing the signature pages—and only the signature pages—for one particular signer on a transaction. That signer may be signing in their individual capacity (i.e., as themselves) and also as an authorized representative on behalf of one or more entities. That means the unique signature pages for the individual and those entities would need to be included in that signer's signature packet.

Why does my client need a signature packet?

Ok, that’s great—but why can’t I just send them the documents they need to sign?

  • First of all, signers may need to sign a lot of documents. It is pretty cumbersome to attach all of those documents to an email and then ask your client print them out, locate their signature pages to sign, and then scan them back to you. Imagine doing that with 20 documents that are 50 pages long: that’s 1,000 pages!
  • Second, your clients are busy people, so the easier you can make this process for them the better. If you give them the full documents or more pages than they need, they will sign them quickly and inevitably miss several places to sign. This means you will have to email them a second or even third time to request more signatures, and they won’t be happy about that.
  • Third, attorneys are coordinating signatures amongst a number of parties, so they will start collecting signatures from their clients in some cases before the underlying documents are final. The attorney will hold those signatures in escrow (read more about that here) and attach them to the final transaction documents.

So as you can see, the signature packet helps the client limit mistakes and save time while giving you, the attorney, everything you need to close the deal.

How do I make a signature packet?

Unfortunately, though it saves your client time, making a signature packet is a fairly time-consuming process for you. It typically involves locating each transaction document, updating the signature blocks to include the proper names and titles, converting them to PDF, extracting each signature page, and combining the single pages into new PDFs for each signer. Then you have to review them all against your checklist to make sure you haven’t missed a page. For many deals, this can take hours!

On the bright side, there are some software tools out there, like SimplyAgree, that will actually do many of these manual processes for you. This enables you to make signature packets from your transaction documents in just a few minutes, and even get them signed electronically. SimplyAgree will also track the signed signatures for you as they come back in, making the process much less burdensome.

See SimplyAgree in action during one of our weekly webinars.