Process service is a vital part of any legal proceeding. Delivering documentation in a timely manner not only prevents delays, it also protects the legal rights of all the individuals involved – including the defendant’s right to due process.
If a lawyer or firm needs to hire a process server, it’s often a paralegal’s job to manage the process. It’s important work, but it can be done efficiently and effectively with the following guidelines.
You Get What You Pay For
Once provided with the documents and instructions, a knowledgeable server should be able to complete an initial attempt shortly after receiving the documents, with an affidavit of service filed almost immediately afterward if service is successful. Of course, the success of the service depends on whether they have accurate information on the subject, if the subject is evading service, the specific court rules, and numerous other factors.
When you need a rush delivery, request multiple attempts at service, or include other pieces such as extended travel or skip tracing, the cost of service increases. Be wary of process servers that charge a flat fee no matter what the circumstances; they’re less likely to go the extra mile when things get difficult. Make sure to always ask your server to explain their fee structure and payment expectations before you hire them so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Getting the job done efficiently and correctly requires professional experience and insight. Lower cost process servers may cut corners to deliver results quickly, but remember, you want efficiency and accuracy – this can cost more. But in the end it costs the firm less when a contested service is upheld.
Good Communication is Vital
Hiring a process server is like any other relationship – you’ll have the most success if both parties are dedicated to clear communication.
You’re not just hiring a temporary assistant to deliver a document . You’re entrusting a professional with an essential legal procedure. The success of your case could depend on them! Make sure your process server is someone who keeps channels of communication open and who provides transparent updates on the status of the service.
In return, always provide specific written instructions, including contingency plans for any unexpected events – such as what to do if the defendant no longer lives at their legal address, avoids service, or travels to another state. Additionally, give your process server every chance for success by providing them with as much information as possible, including contact information, physical descriptions, and any known locations beyond workplace and residential addresses.
Stay Safe, Smart, and Legal
Almost every paralegal can recount a wild tale involving a process server who either deliberately or unintentionally delivered documentation incorrectly. Whether it’s providing a proof of service for undelivered documents or disregarding state requirements, an unethical process server can be the deciding factor in whether or not the judge accepts a case.
A server’s attention to detail and documentation should be meticulous. They should work efficiently but not carelessly. They should take pride in their reputation in the legal community. Whenever possible, get references and recommendations before choosing a process server. And remember, the benefits of a great process server are always worth the fee. Are you a paralegal in need of a reputable process server? DRG Legal is here to help.