When it comes to serving legal documents, paralegals certainly have their work cut out for them—particularly if the person being served lives in another state.
In some cases, paralegals might ask their local process server to subcontract the work in another state. Other times, paralegals might conduct an internet search on their own to try and find a process server in this other state who can help them serve legal documents.
If you find yourself in the second situation, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about what to look for in a good process server, factors to consider when weighing process server options, and four process server tricks that will make the entire experience much easier on you.
When you’re entrusting a contractor to serve legal documents for you, it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure you end up partnering with someone who can get the job done. With that in mind, here are some characteristics that all effective process servers possess.
Great process servers are dependable. When you hire them to do the job, they do it quickly and professionally.
At the same time, effective process servers are up front and transparent about the job. They keep you posted with status updates and never leave you in the dark wondering where things stand at any given time.
Since you’re going to be working with them remotely most—if not all—of the time, look for a process server who has strong communication skills. That way, there won’t be any confusion about the job, and you won’t run into any issues due to miscommunications.
As we all know, serving legal documents isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. After all, some defendants seem to think that their legal woes will go away if they simply ignore them. Sometimes, process servers need to get a little creative to complete the job. This is why it’s so important to look for process servers who are determined to get the job done and don’t let any setbacks or inconveniences hold them back.
Great process servers are also highly diligent. They research the ins and outs of every case and know where involved parties work, live, and hang out. They also know every alias the individual might go by and who they know, and they never leave any stones unturned during the process.
Of course, you don’t want to hire the first process server you come across. You’ll want to do your own due diligence to make sure that the individual you hire is experienced and has done good work over the years. To this end, read some reviews to find out what it’s like to work with the process server you’re considering. If their reviews are suboptimal—or you can’t find any reviews in the first place—you might want to look elsewhere.
Since this is business, you’ll also have to consider whether the process server’s fees are reasonable and how this pricing compares to other servers in the same area. Ideally, you’ll be able to find someone with fair pricing, which makes it much easier to ensure healthy margins.
Now that you have a better idea about the kinds of traits to look for in a process server, let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to ask servers before agreeing to do business with them.
Since you’re most likely going to be working with a contractor, it’s important to find out how long the individual has been in business. You might not be comfortable working for someone who just launched their own business yesterday, for example.
Just because a server’s business might be new doesn’t necessarily mean they’re new to the serving game entirely. If someone worked as a server for a law firm for 10 years and just went out on their own recently, they obviously have the experience you need.
Some states—including Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas—require process servers to acquire a license to work. Other states, including Florida and New York, have local laws that govern serving legal documents. Make sure the candidates you consider are aware of these laws and possess the requisite certifications.
While you should independently verify whether the individual has a website or reviews, you might want to talk to some of the individual’s references to get a better idea of what it’s like to work with them.
If you expect you might need the process server to appear in court, you’ll want to know ahead of time that you can count on them to appear. You don’t want to find out at the last minute that the individual you hire isn’t willing to show up at court.
Since states have different laws that govern process serving, it’s important to make sure the candidates you’re considering are familiar with the states where the documents need to be served.
In the ideal world, a process server would be able to serve legal documents in one try, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Ask how many attempts are included in pricing before agreeing to work with the individual, and be sure to ask how quickly they can make the first attempt.
The last thing you want is to have no insight into what’s happening after the serve is done. Make sure the process server will keep you abreast of what’s going on throughout the process and provides you with a time frame as to when you will receive the affidavit.
By now, you know what to look for in a server and the questions to ask as you whittle down your options. Now, it’s time for the last piece of the puzzle: process server tricks to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
You can’t expect a process server to drop everything right this second and help you out. The more time you give them to complete your serve, the easier their job will be, and the more likely they’ll be successful at serving your papers.
Similarly, make sure to give process servers as much information as possible to make their job easier and increase the chances you get the outcomes you’re hoping for. Be sure to pass along:
Names and nicknames
Current and old addresses
Any known phone numbers
Employer name and location
Names of family members
Type of car they drive
Information about their daily schedule
Social media profiles
Instead of searching for a process server manually, you might be better off using purpose-built tools that expedite the process. For example, Proof can automate the process of serving legal documents by connecting paralegals to a network of 1,300 vetted process servers nationwide, so you can quickly connect with a server in any state.
Nobody works for free. If you want to preserve your firm’s reputation and increase the chances you can rely on a process server in the future, you need to make sure they are paid quickly. When you use a platform such as Proof, billing is attached to your credit card, meaning paying process servers has never been quicker and easier.
Paralegals are busier than ever. By using a platform such as Proof, it’s possible to take the hassle of hiring process servers off your plate completely, allowing you to focus on more pressing matters.
For more information on how Proof can transform your process serving workflows, get started with Proof today.