Author: The Process Server Center | PROServerCENTER is a legal professional organization whose mission is to set a national standard for the process service industry in the United States.
Once upon a time...Back in year 2012 a man we are going to name John Smith woke up in his tastefully furnished home. It was promising to be a beautiful summer weekend in Charleston, North Carolina, and John was looking forward to spending time with his family playing games in their backyard...
First things first, John Smith was in the habit of checking his emails in the morning and it was then that he saw a message from his local bank, advising him of a recent important notice related to his account. John logged in and carefully read the notice. In fact, he read it several times. It notified him that a New York equipment leasing company, he used to do business with several years ago, has won a judgment for non-payment against him, and there was a court order to garnish his wages… John Smith felt lost... He did not know anything about the judgment, the court order, the garnishment… His finances would be in jeopardy. John knew he had to place a call to his attorney immediately… He did not know this was coming… He has never been notified… Though rarely service of process brings you good news, John Smith would have definitely preferred to know in advance… He would have rather been served with the legal papers...
Do you know that according to the National Center for State Courts, process service is one of the top challenges confronting the justice system? Consistent with fundamental notions of due process and fairness, a person must receive proper notice of any judicial action in which he or she is made a party of. Yet process service is often a neglected step in a judicial proceeding. Proper service on a party and a correct affidavit of service filed with the court ensure that the parties to the action have been notified as prescribed by the court system.
Legal market analysis conducted by the Process Server Center shows that more than 87% of attorneys, paralegals and legal managers are not satisfied with their current process server. Service of process is certainly no fun! If not completed or done properly, insufficient service of process may result in a delay, breach of duty or termination of an otherwise successful trial. It could become costly.
Among legal professionals, process service is often associated with headaches! What usually happens is that either you or your legal team spend valuable time chasing process servers to check on the status of legal documents being served or to obtain a completed affidavit on time for a court hearing. Even when filed with the court, a defendant may still appear and challenge the sufficiency of the service or the veracity of the return. Your headaches from improper service of process are mounting and your legal team spends valuable resources to ensure compliance and due diligence.
Among process servers, service of process is also associated with frustrations! Most of the time clients provide very scarce information when contacting a process server for a new job. The information a client usually seeks is how much a process server would charge for serving legal documents in his/her area. Hardly any further details are provided, such as originating court, type of legal documents, methods of service allowed by the court. It is rare that a client would offer any other information pertaining to the person to be served, such as when he/she is usually home; does he work?; how is the address verified? Lack of information provided by the client and lack of details oftentimes lead to incorrect service of process or unnecessary attempts without proper due diligence.
Factors that lead to inconsistencies in the quality of service of process
Just because process service is simple, it does not mean it is easy... A nationwide survey, conducted by the Process Server Center, shows that more than 89% of process servers struggle to retain their clients in the long-run, while 87% of legal professionals are ready to change their process server. Competition is fierce in service of process and every day new people become process servers to take the place of others. Years of working with process servers throughout the United States and interviewing lawyers, legal assistants and paralegals have helped us identify some of the key factors that lead to inconsistencies in the quality of process service:
All of these factors lead to inconsistencies in the quality of service of process and to the mounting confusion among clients who need to hire a process server. The lack of a meaningful review process, the ease of entry into the profession (apart from a handful of states requiring certification or licensing) and the increasing number of process servers, both full-time and part-time, lead to fierce competition based mostly on the difference in the fees process servers charge for serving legal documents. There is nothing else (except a word of mouth reference) that a client can rely on in order to select and hire a process server who is knowledgeable, reliable and consistent.
Need for National Standard for Process Service
Based on the surveys mentioned above, the current approach to finding a professional process server frequently leads to inconsistent quality of service of process, inefficient performance, low pay and poor image of process servers in general. The Process Server Center aims to clear the confusion within the industry and help provide better solutions for both process servers and legal professionals through specific, actionable solutions, the development of relevant training for process servers and the administration of PROServer LIST, the first nationwide exclusive Directory for Certified and Pre-Screened Process Servers.
There is a definite need to revolutionize the process service industry in a meaningful way, different from legislation imposed rules and regulations that often confuse and cause hardships to industries. There is a clear demand to implement a National Standard for Process Service built on the basis of the very needs of process servers. There is strong call for new and modern solutions for:
The implementation of a National Standard for Process Service will help legal teams:
Even in light of the increasing pace of technological advances, personal service of process remains “personal” and it is still the most reliable way to ensure compliance with constitutionally imposed due process of notice to a defendant and the opportunity to be heard. Without proper service of process a court has no jurisdiction over a defendant and may not proceed. Understanding the importance and weight of service of process is essential to the outcome of a lawsuit. Knowing your process server is imperative and selecting a process server must be on the basis of experience, education and reliability, not on the service fees he/she charges to serve your legal documents. It is indeed time to revolutionize the process service industry in the United States, to advance the profession, to clear the image of so many really good and professional process servers who lack the proper tools and platforms to distinguish themselves and truly show their high professionalism.