Suffice it to say, Hollywood is rarely a good source of information about what an actual job looks like. Law & Order doesn’t perfectly represent the work amongst police officers, and Suits doesn’t show what work life is really like for lawyers.
Representation for process servers is even more inaccurate.
So what does it really look like to be a process server? What does a job entail for those who are doing the work, day in and day out?
We don’t just serve legal documents
A common mental image people have of process servers is of serving divorce papers. That’s definitely part of the job – but there’s a lot more involved.
A process server is a support role in the legal and court system. Process servers hand deliver official court and legal documents such as subpoenas, summons, complaints, and more to individuals involved in court cases.
Because a process server works closely with other legal professionals, they have to be familiar with legal practices and processes (more on that below). Another necessary job activity – research skills! Finding hard-to-locate individuals is routine work for a process server.
However, process servers do more than just delivering papers. Process service requires a number of skills that go beyond just handing over documents. Getting an individual served and having the service stand up in court requires persistence, knowledge of the court rules and service requirements, and clear, thorough record keeping.
You need top-notch research skills to do the job
Being a process server is more than just delivering documents – a lot of work goes into finding subjects. Process servers use all information available to pinpoint the location of individuals or businesses, using databases, web and social media searches, known associate interviews, and more to find people. Oftentimes, process servers have limited information to go on, which means that they have to think outside the box to pinpoint someone’s location.
People move more frequently today than they have in the past so it can be difficult to locate a current address for someone. Businesses can also be tough to nail down, especially with the use of shell companies or “doing business as”. To locate them, it’s necessary to be able to use all available resources to avoid having to petition for alternate service.
The job involves a lot of technology
Technology is a big part of almost every job these days. This goes for process serving, too!
Process servers use technology in a wide range of ways. To locate a subject, process servers use a variety of resources: Google, address databases, social media sites are all important resources for a process server.
When it comes to delivering documents, technology also plays a role. Mobile apps that use GPS to verify location are important tools for process servers needing to record delivery attempts.
Technology also helps process servers manage their services and workflows. Thanks to data transfer and imaging technologies, process servers can manage client’s digital records easily.
Process servers spend a lot of time on the road
You might think that, based on the amount of research that a process server has to do, they spend a lot of time behind a desk. That’s not true at all! Process servers spend A LOT of time on the road.
This time on the road isn’t necessarily out-and-back trips. There are lots of opportunities for dead ends, lots of time spent waiting, and lots of recalibrating plans. After all, not everyone is receptive to being served, meaning that it might take several attempts to successfully serve documents.
We follow lots of rules and regulations
You know those movies where a pizza delivery guy shows up at someone’s door – but instead of handing over a pizza, they give the character a subpoena?
Each state has its own approach to regulating the industry. Who can be served, how service should be completed, and deadlines are critical components of proper service.
It’s important for process servers to:
- Be honest about who they are
- Never impersonate law enforcement
- Leave any mail alone, even if it may show who currently resides at the property alone
- Stay off private property
As such, process servers have to be familiar with the legal limits of the state. However, process servers often operate across numerous states! A process server may find that a server was located in New Jersey for several years, but has recently worked in Philadelphia. They’ll need to be up on Pennsylvania laws and regulations so they serve the papers in a legal manner.
Process servers are hardworking individuals who are committed to making sure their job is done right. DGR employs professionals with years of experience in all aspects of process serving.
Contact us to learn more about how we provide clients with exceptional service for each case.