Reggie Davis is a very busy person. From advocating LGBT rights to keeping on top of all the latest technological advancements, Lawyer Monthly cannot help but wonder how DocuSign’s General Counsel (GC) does it.
“I have a lot of smart people working for me, that really help me look good”, laughs Reggie.
“They keep me from making mistakes and I have a lot of trusted advisers where they guide me appropriately. I would definitely say hire people that are smarter than you, and trust them when they tell you what to do.”
We speak more with Reggie about his journey as GC at one of the most progressive companies that has pioneered the development of e-signature technology, and today offers the world’s #1 e-signature solution.
So, you have worked for very different companies, what was the biggest transition from Zynga to DocuSign?
There are a few things. In a way it was easy, as there are many people I work with at DocuSign that I previously worked with at Zynga and several of them I also worked with at Yahoo!. So, in essence, I work with a really good group of friends on the legal team that have been with me overtime, which makes it a lot of fun. Doing something completely different is always interesting to me; when I left working with a law firm and went to work with Yahoo!, which was then in the heyday of privacy and security, we were tackling all these new issues which was good fun. Following on from that, I went to Zynga which was also online; I saw a lot of the same faces and similar issues to help me figure things out there. Then DocuSign, which I would say is a calmer and more soothing, ‘middle of the fairway’ company, presents less controversy in terms of the challenges presented. All companies similar in a sense, in relation to their online presence, but they all present their own challenges.
DocuSign recently went public; how do you prepare for going from a private to a public company?
Maturity allows you to remain consistent with reporting and its governance
I think it is just bringing a level of maturity and consistency to the company; you go from being private, which still has its own host of regulations, to meeting all these heightened regulations when you become public. Even though prior to being public you still have regulatory requirements to meet, you now have to deal with public reporting cycles on an orderly basis, you have various listing requirements around Nasdaq [or other] that require you to make certain disclosures, and you are also subject to a higher degree of SEC (Security & Exchanges Commission) requirements.
So, I would say it is maturity; maturity allows you to remain consistent with reporting and its governance. Your investors are putting trust in you by buying your securities on an open market thus, you have to be quite disciplined and mature in how you approach and report out on your business. A lot this happens behind the scenes, lawyers work with the finance team to ensure the framework and infrastructure and operational rigour is in place in order to be a publicly traded company.
What took you by surprise when you first began working as GC at DocuSign?
The technology is actually much more sophisticated and profound than I thought it was going to be! I thought it was a simple e-signature company, where you are able to complete digital transactions and documents and contracts (etc.) online, by using a digital signature or an electronic signature. But there is actually quite a bit of complicated technology underneath it all!
We provide a certificate of completion (COC), so for every signature you sign via DocuSign, you get a complete record which shows when, where and how that document was transacted. So, basically when you use our software, your document becomes a smart contract and it can tell you, no matter where you are at later in time when you look at it, where it has been, who’s touched it, how it has been signed, maintained and acted upon. All of this is done in a tamper-proof, encrypted ‘envelope’, so, as you can imagine, there is a lot of technology involved in this process. That was probably the biggest surprise when I first came to work as GC to DocuSign, to understand this process and to be in the position to explain that to others when they use our software.
What do you think is the best part of being General Counsel?
Definitely working with the people. I love the team that I work with, we have great people involved and I have been fortunate to become friends with them over the years. They are all very smart, dedicated and hard-working and I get to help them take on big goals and watch them work hard to achieve them, which is rewarding as much as it is fun.
On the other hand, what is your least favourite aspect?
Funnily enough, my least favourite aspect of being GC used to be all the things you have to sign. But at DocuSign everything is so easy, due to it all being digital! My least favourite was certainly all the paper work I had to deal with, and now that has largely gone, so I guess my least favourite aspect now is probably the traffic into the commute. San Francisco’s traffic is terrible, but I do loathe to complain to Londoners about the traffic, as I know the commutes can be worse!
Going digital is inevitable to an extent, but people are apprehensive about the authenticity and security of digitalisation. In your opinion, what is the best way to ensure clients their data is safe?
You are correct with saying that security is an issue and we are working hard towards ensuring security is tight.
Good question! When I first got to DocuSign, the first issue wasn’t security, it was legality. When I first began working here, our main question was: ‘is it legal if I sign this contract electronically and is it valid?’. As I spent a lot of time getting people and our customers comfortable on the legality of the signature, we decided to devise the ‘Trust Centre’ on our website. Here we talk about our security and what we publicly disclose, as well as the e-signature legality guide. This is a guide we created across 64 countries, where most of our business is conducted, which goes into the various laws regarding e-signatures of those respective countries for our customers, which has been a huge hit. With it being one of the most downloaded documents off our website, it has given people a lot of comfort when they see this summary of the laws.
You are correct with saying that security is an issue and we are working hard towards ensuring security is tight. We are complying with the Service Organisation Control (SOC) 1 & 2, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI) and more recently, with Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs), or as I like to call it, GDPR on steroids.
These regulatory requirements have been embedded by the data protection authorities and as DocuSign is both a processor and controller of data, adhering to these requirements goes a long way to showing our customers that we take the software we sell, and the fact that our customers are selling / transacting some of their most important business using our software as a trusted brand, very seriously.
If a company can tell you all day long that they are committed to security, but if they are being audited by third parties and getting certifications and accreditations from such parties, then I think a customer can take a lot more comfort in the fact that the company has the right security measures in place.
I candidly think that the London market has been quite progressive in terms of its adoption of digital transformation.
As you are conquering the digital world, in what ways do you think the legal industry need to reform in order to progress?
I candidly think that the London market has been quite progressive in terms of its adoption of digital transformation. A while back, The London Law Society published a report speculating on digital signatures, stating that they expect e-signatures will accelerate the business sector and drive up compliance, so from my perspective the London market is quite progressive in its approach to digital transformation.
Generally, there are other areas where the legal industry lag behind; even though Courts are typically slow to react to changes, we are seeing an increase of electronic filing in the Courts and I think there is an understanding across the European market, Governments and regulatory regimes, that there needs to be a commitment to becoming digital. This also stands for law firms, as well as banks, financial institutions and others.
The younger generation won’t have the tolerance for scanning and faxing; so I think we are at the point now where as the next generations are more accepting towards digital transformation and expect things to be more digital, there will be more momentum towards progression in technology developments in law.
What are common misconceptions people have about digital processes, such as DocuSign?
People are often amazed to how much it accelerates their business. The age-old attitude remains true here: people overestimate technology in the short term and grossly underestimate it in the long term. Most people are surprised by how much their businesses can change, how fast things can move, and the amount of cost that can be reduced by going digital as opposed to paper.
When I have spent time with customers that began adopting us on a pretty regular basis, I have seen that it really does change the way that they do business. Over 50% of our customers have now seen their contracts completed in less than 15 minutes and 83% of them are seeing their contracts completed in less than 24 hours. The speed to completion of the contracting process is what people tend to really underestimate. For example, one of our customers are T-Mobile, and by using digital signatures, it has reduced their time to sell a phone by over an hour (on average). Once the document has been e-signed, a dozen things behind the scenes instantaneously occur, which quickens the speed, efficiency and reduces cost.
I think smart contracts, blockchain and AI are getting overhyped regarding their short term impact, but in the long term it is here to stay and will transform the way in which we interact
Are there any exciting developments in technology you are looking forward to embracing in your work?
Yes of course. It is a really interesting time to be a digital GC. Between the digital transformation that is going on with software companies like DocuSign and others out there, we are really focused on developing even further. There is going to be a lot talk on artificial intelligence; I know right now there is a lot of hope and hype around artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, but the reality is that behind the scenes there are a lot of smart people working on technological advances that don’t seem to be getting a lot of attention, but will transform the way we are doing business.
I think smart contracts, blockchain and AI are getting overhyped regarding their short term impact, but in the long term it is here to stay and will transform the way in which we interact, especially in terms of everyday transactions. I do think it will change drastically at an accelerated pace over the next five or ten years, and the legal teams will have to keep up with that. Lawyers will not be doing themselves or their company just service if they do not become digital or technologically sophisticated; it is where the customers are going, and we need to keep up with them. It is an exciting time to be a GC.
From this, can you share ways you are developing yourself and your team, in order to ensure 2018 is the company’s best year yet?
We spend a lot of time together; I am really focused on the team’s creative core, so there is a fundamental need to bond.
I am a huge advocate of giving back to the community that has given so much to us, so I widely support our lawyers doing pro bono work and helping those who are less fortunate.
That is more challenging than you may think at times, because we are growing quickly; when I first started there were only four or five of us on the legal team, and now my legal team consists of 72 people. The team consists of people from different professional backgrounds, from all over the globe, which makes it more challenging to integrate them into the team. I am a strong advocate of encouraging my team members to identify conferences to attend, work towards being subject experts and for them to speak at such events; spending time trying to ensure those near and far feel a part of the team is so important.
I also think pro-bono is important. I am a huge advocate of giving back to the community that has given so much to us, so I widely support our lawyers doing pro bono work and helping those who are less fortunate. I have partaken in many things myself, such as supporting the LGBT community; civil rights issues are just as important as usual day-to-day work, as we need to ensure the betterment of society, for our children and future generations. Positive support and celebrating individuality are also reflected into DocuSign: we celebrate is the whole employee – not just the worker – and this ties back into making sure everyone feels a part of the team. Honing in on this, on making sure we are a better team with broad interests inside and outside of work, enables us to be stronger and better than before.
Reggie leads DocuSign’s award winning legal team in driving acceptance and adoption of digital signatures and transactions across business, industry, and the public sector.
Prior to joining DocuSign, Reggie served as general counsel and EVP at Zynga where he helped manage hypergrowth from 114 to 3,600 employees, successfully brokered 48 acquisitions that led to the expansion of 32 offices worldwide, and oversaw the third largest technology IPO in Silicon Valley history.
DocuSign has been on a mission to accelerate business and simplify life for companies and people around the world by providing electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services for facilitating electronic exchanges of contracts and signed documents.