Who Can Be a Process Server?

June 20, 2024

A process server notifies an individual or entity of a lawsuit or legal action against them by serving them court papers. In most jurisdictions, the law stipulates specific rules and requirements for serving each type of legal document, and failing to adhere to these requirements may invalidate the service of process. That’s why it’s important to understand who can be a process server so that you can be sure your legal documents are served by a qualified process server.

In California, anyone who is at least 18 years old and is not a party to the case can serve legal papers. This means that a process server can be a sheriff, marshal, local law enforcement agent, professional process server, or even a colleague, family member, or friend. However, since improper service may attract legal consequences, it’s best to hire a professional process server who is experienced in the rules of service of process in your jurisdiction.

With over 16 years of experience, On-Call Legal Process Servers are the most reliable process servers for all services of process in California and nationwide. Our experienced process servers are always available to help you deliver your court documents safely and smoothly anywhere in the country. Schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your needs and guide you throughout the process.

This article will explain who qualifies to be a process server, the legal requirements to become one, and other important things you need to know about process servers.

What Is Process Serving?

What Is Process Serving?

Process serving refers to the legal procedure of delivering legal documents to a person or entity in a legal proceeding. It is also known as service of process or process service. The aim of process service is to make sure that all parties to a case receive due notice about a legal action against them or a court order that requires their participation. Legal documents delivered through process serving include summons, complaints, subpoenas, petitions, notices of hearing, writs, motions, and orders.

Who Is a Process Server?

A process server is someone who delivers legal or court documents to an individual or entity involved in a lawsuit. Process servers deliver court papers to notify the recipient of a legal action or lawsuit against them, giving them the opportunity to respond as required. Depending on the court document, the recipient may be required to appear in court or produce a document or other forms of evidence. By giving parties the opportunity to respond accordingly or defend themselves in court, process servers help to promote the core values of the legal system – equity, fairness, and transparency.

Apart from a process server’s main job, which is serving legal documents, they can also carry out administrative duties such as filing court papers, providing proof of service, and preparing court documents. In addition, process servers can also retrieve official documents from courts or other official facilities, which is very useful for attorneys or law firms who may not have access to those documents.

Legal Requirements To Become a Process Server

Legal Requirements To Become a Process Server

Before you become a process server, there are various requirements you must fulfill, which may vary by state or jurisdiction. These requirements are set to ascertain that process servers meet the legal and professional criteria to serve legal papers. The basic requirements are as follows:

  1. A process server must be at least 18 years old.
  2. They must be a legal resident or citizen of the country where they serve legal documents.
  3. They must not be a party to the case involved.
  4. A process server must not have any criminal record, especially felonies that might put their credibility and integrity into question. Hence, many states require a background check.
  5. Process servers in California who serve more than 10 papers in a year must be registered in the County where they live or have their primary place of business, according to the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS).
  6. While some states require process servers to obtain a license, some states do not. For example, California process servers are not mandated to be licensed.
  7. Although not generally compulsory, some states still mandate their process servers to obtain specific certifications to qualify. For instance, process servers in Texas are required to be certified by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC) after completing a certified training course and passing a criminal history check.
  8. Process servers are required to hold a surety bond or liability insurance. The insurance is necessary to protect both the server and their clients against possible legal claims due to error during service. According to NAPPS, California process servers must post a $2,000 bond or cash deposit.

Additional Qualifications and Skills of a Process Server

Apart from the requirements stipulated by law, process servers often acquire other additional requirements and skills to boost their credibility and efficiency. For instance, most state laws do not mandate process servers to have formal education beyond a high school diploma. Nevertheless, they may go through certain training programs to learn the legal procedures and professional ethics on how to serve someone legal papers correctly.

The training programs also help them master the unique requirements for proper service of specific documents. In addition, process servers may need to undergo these trainings continuously to keep them updated about changes in the legal system and process serving rules. But beyond the legal and ethical aspects, process servers also need to learn other important skills for service of process, such as good communication, attention to detail, and how to handle the physical and mental demands of the job.

Different Types of Process Servers

Different Types of Process Servers

There are various types of process servers suitable to different specific process service needs or circumstances. You need to understand the similarities and differences between these types to be able to choose the right kind of process server for your service of process. The main types include:

  1. Sheriffs and other law enforcement agents
  2. Private process servers
  3. Special court-appointed process servers
  4. Legal courier services

Sheriffs or constables are the traditional options for serving documents in many jurisdictions. In some rare cases, especially in rural areas, local law enforcement officers may serve papers. Law enforcement officers often have authority across their counties and understand the local laws and procedures for service of process. Serving documents through them usually indicates the seriousness of the notice being served, especially for personal service.

Although using officers of the law can be economical, they’re often not as fast as private process servers. A private process server is an individual or process-serving company that specializes in serving process in their region. They’re relatively quicker and more reliable than law enforcement agents, especially in cases where evasive recipients may find it easier to avoid officers. Additionally, reputable private servers like On-Call Legal Process Servers also offer all-inclusive legal support services such as skip tracing, court filing, document research and retrieval, electronic county recording services, etc.

The legal requirements for establishing a private process-serving company may differ across jurisdictions. While some states require them to obtain certain licenses and/or certifications, others may just require them to register with their local authority. Either way, registrations, licenses, and certifications are all valid ways people use to determine if a process server is legitimate. If you’re looking for reliable process servers in Los Angeles and across California, On-Call Legal Process Servers are your best option.

Note that the court can decide to appoint a special process server for a particular case. This usually happens when a party requests a particular individual or entity to serve papers due to failed multiple attempts or a specific expertise or discretion that a professional process server can provide.

Moreover, legal courier services, also known as messenger services, can also deliver legal documents. Legal courier services are particularly useful for law firms and legal departments of organizations as they also deliver other legal documents that are not necessarily court papers. On-Call Legal Process Servers are the most dependable couriers in Los Angeles, offering same-day delivery across the city.

Benefits of Being a Process Server

Benefits of Being a Process Server

A process server’s job comes with many advantages. First, it’s satisfying to know that you play an important role in maintaining fairness and equity in the legal system. Secondly, you can earn good income as a process server, especially if your process-serving company specializes in difficult-to-serve cases or has a large volume of demand. Additionally, the job offers growth opportunities; so you can transition into related fields such as private investigations or overall legal services.

Moreover, process servers often develop valuable networks within the legal community, which can lead to further professional opportunities and collaborations. This networking can be a substantial professional advantage. In addition, you can manage your schedules and strategies, which can be particularly satisfying for self-directed individuals.

Challenges of Being a Process Server

Due to the sensitive nature of the documents they deliver and the strict requirements they operate under, being a process server also pose different unique challenges. One of the most common challenges is serving evasive recipients. Process servers need a lot of resilience and tactics, such as skip tracing, to deal with people who intentionally try to avoid being served. Sometimes, a process server may face people with aggressive behaviors. In such cases, they’re expected to maintain their professional code of conduct while managing the situation with excellent conflict resolution skills.

In an attempt to catch up with recipients early in the morning or late at night, process servers may need to travel or work beyond normal business hours. Moreover, frequent travels and dealing with different kinds of people may lead to significant physical and emotional stress.

How To Start a Career as a Process Server

How To Start a Career as a Process Server

To build a successful career as a process server, you need a lot of strategic planning, training, and legal compliance. Let’s walk you through the recommended process, step by step.

First, find out the laws and regulations you need to fulfill in your jurisdiction. Check out the age requirements, registration, certification and licensing, insurance, and other such requirements. If your state mandates any training, examinations, or certifications, find out what they cost and go through them. Then, undergo a background check to confirm that you do not have a criminal record.

After meeting all the eligibility criteria, gather the necessary tools for the job. You may need a reliable vehicle, a GPS device for tracking, access to databases for skip tracing, and a functional website for marketing and contact with potential clients.

You’ll need some practical experience to be able to serve legal papers correctly. A good way to start is to work with an established process-serving agency within the jurisdiction you intend to serve in. Alternatively, you can volunteer to serve papers for friends and family or potential clients. It’s a good way to practice and refine your approach in a less pressured environment.

As you build experience, develop a marketing plan to target potential clients such as attorneys, law firms, and even private individuals. At this stage, having a working website becomes a necessity. You should also find great opportunities to connect with local attorneys, court officials, and even other process servers to build your network, strengthen your reputation, and source for more job opportunities.

The legal system changes over time. Hence, as a process server, be sure to stay updated with legal developments and changes in process-serving laws by attending workshops, seminars, and continuing education courses.

Need a Process Server?

Different states may have varying laws and requirements for becoming a process server within their jurisdiction. Apart from the legal requirements, a process server still needs certain additional skills, such as effective communication, emotional intelligence, and attention to detail to serve papers efficiently. Additionally, process servers may gain extra credibility from licenses, certifications, and membership in professional bodies. Therefore, you need a proper understanding of all these factors to pursue a successful career as a process server.

If you need the services of a process server as an attorney, law firm, or legal personnel of an organization, it’s recommended that you do your due diligence to find a qualified and experienced process server to avoid the consequences of improper service. As the most reliable process servers in Los Angeles, On-Call Legal Process Servers are always available to help deliver your legal documents anywhere in the United States safely and without delay. Book a free consultation with us today to discuss how we can help you serve your legal papers and also guide you throughout the process.

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Proud member of the California Association of Legal Support Professionals (CALSPro), National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) and Serve-Now Network of Process Servers

National Association of Professional Process Servers   California Association of Legal Support Pros   Local Process Servers


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