Process Server Job Description
Process servers support legal and court activities by hand-delivering documents such as subpoenas, summons, and restraining orders to individuals involved in court cases. This role requires thorough familiarity with legal practices and processes, as well as the ability to research defendants and other involved parties and find their current address or place of work to deliver documents. Process servers work closely with legal professionals, and are often employed by law offices or courts to locate individuals and serve them with legal documents. Process servers also play an important role in maintaining records to ensure that legal proceedings can occur.
Process Server Duties and Responsibilities
Based on job postings that we analyzed, process servers have several core responsibilities:
Deliver Legal Documents
The central duty of a process server is delivering various legal documents by hand to individuals involved with court cases. These documents can range from summons and subpoenas to restraining orders. In this aspect of the role, the process server needs verbal confirmation that the recipient is the individual named in the legal document before serving the papers. They then must collect the individual’s signature to confirm receipt of the document.
Locate Individuals to be Served
Another major part of a process server’s job is locating individuals involved in court cases, typically using public records databases to identify their current whereabouts and contact information. In many cases, defendants and other individuals involved in cases may leave town or attempt to avoid the process server, in which case they need to use other methods to track down the individual’s location.
Maintain Delivery Records
Process servers also need to maintain accurate delivery records for all documents they handle, including records of signatures. This part of the job is vital, since improperly recorded deliveries may result in a case being thrown out of court on a technicality. Additionally, process servers may need to prepare reports related to their deliveries for use by lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals.
Collaborate with Legal Professionals
Process servers work with a wide variety of legal professionals to support their activities. This can include many different tasks, ranging from collecting documents from lawyers to reviewing information about defendants and other involved parties. Process servers may work with lawyers to establish timelines for deliveries and determine each individual connected to a particular court case. They may need to present reports of their deliveries or (in rare cases) testify in court.
Adhere to Rules and Regulations
While locating individuals, delivering documents, and collecting signatures, process servers also need to ensure that they are following rules and regulations related to their duties. Process servers need to confirm that their locating and skip-tracing methods are within legal limits. They also need to follow rules for document presentation and signature collection, such as making sure that the recipients verbally identify themselves to prevent court cases being thrown out.
Process Server Skills and Qualifications
Process servers deliver legal documents such as summons and subpoenas to individuals involved in a variety of court cases. Most workers in this role have at least a high school diploma and the following skills:
- Legal knowledge – process servers should be familiar with legal and court procedures and understand the regulations related to serving summons and other documents to individuals
- Attention to detail – this role requires excellent attention to detail, since process servers need to ensure that documents reach the correct recipients and that they maintain accurate records
- Communication skills – process servers should be strong written and verbal communicators, since they work with legal professionals and individuals involved in court cases
- Research skills – in this role, process servers frequently need to locate individuals to deliver documents, so they should have strong research skills and be able to locate correct and current information
- Record-keeping skills – process servers also need to maintain accurate records of document deliveries and may also need to submit these records to lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals
Process Server Education and Training
There are no formal education requirements for becoming a process server, and most workers enter this role with a high school diploma or GED. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training, but process servers should be somewhat familiar with court procedures and the rules outlining how they can conduct their work.
Process Server Salary and Outlook
Both PayScale and Glassdoor have collected salary data for process servers. According to PayScale, process servers earn an average annual salary of $35,217 based on 98 reported salaries. Glassdoor does not provide a salary average, but their salary ranges generally start at $29,000 and go as high as $44,000 per year with a few outliers in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide employment outlook data for process servers.
If you’d like to learn more about working as a process server, we found many resources on the web for further reading and information:
National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) – NAPPS is the largest professional organization for process servers, providing career development opportunities, publications, and opportunities to connect with others in the field.
The Process Server’s Handbook: Expanded Edition by Kenneth A. Brennan – read this book to learn how to get started as a process server, with examples that illustrate the civil process system and common forms.
“7 Best Business Practices for Process Servers” – this blog post focuses on the business side of working as a process server, providing advice for building a reputation and finding steady employment.
Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Process Server: 10 Steps to Creating Wealth and Freedom as a Process Server by Tramaine Dashawn Fields and Monica Fields – read this book to learn valuable tips for getting started as a process server.
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