What Is a Process Server? (Including FAQ and Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 11, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The judicial system depends on several professionals performing different roles to function efficiently. Process servers belong to this group of legal professionals responsible for delivering legal documents and performing other essential roles. If you’re considering a career as a process server, understanding the role in more detail can help you make a more informed decision. In this article, we answer "What is a process server?" examine the duties of a process server, outline the skills required, and provide answers to some FAQ.

What is a process server?

Understanding the answer to "What is a process server?" is important if you want to pursue a career as a process server. A process server is an individual who works in the legal field to deliver or serve legal documents to people who are parties to court cases or their legal representatives. Also known as Service of Process, this process of serving documents has specified procedures, which each area of jurisprudence clearly states.

Process servers also provide many other functions to the court and the legal system. They file confidential court papers and transcripts and retrieve and deliver other official documents. Some servers also provide skip tracing services to help locate persons of interest whose location is unknown.

Related: Top 21 Jobs in the Legal Field (With Duties and Salaries)

What does a process server do?

Process servers are key to a wide array of legal tasks. While their primary function is to serve legal documents to defendants and other people involved in legal matters, they also file court papers, deliver legal documents, and retrieve other documents and legal items.

To legally serve someone is to officially deliver court documents that implement a person in a crime, debt, or lawsuit. Sometimes, in anticipation of service, a person may try to hide their whereabouts or relocate to avoid receiving the notice. In these instances, process servers use public and private databases, interviews, and other investigative tactics to locate the people they serve.

Essential process server skills

Considering acquiring the following skills if you want to succeed as a process server:

Problem solving

Like other professionals, process servers often encounter challenges while executing their tasks. These can range from procedural issues to locating recipients. Identifying the root causes and finding effective solutions can help you excel in this role.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Notary public

Possessing notary skills can be an advantage if you want to pursue a career as a process server. Notary publics are people who have the empowerment of the law to verify signatures and certify a document's validity. They can also prepare legal paperwork like affidavits, which they often use to verify the identity of recipients of notices.

Persistence

The job of a process server can sometimes be challenging, requiring long hours of focused effort to complete a task. People who can keep working on a difficult task without losing their composure can excel as process servers. They often succeed at delivering some papers only after many trials.

Skip tracing

People sometimes conceal their location to avoid responding to a court summons. Skip tracing is the ability to find people who have tried to disappear. Process servers with this skill stand a better chance of excelling at the job.

Investigative skills

Process servers work in the legal field, where data collection is fundamental to building a strong case. The ability to find and analyze data to reach valid conclusions can be an asset. Process servers can use this skill to reveal hidden locations and collect relevant evidence to support their legal documents.

Read more: Effective Investigative Skills to Develop Your Career

Communication

Good communication skills are an advantage to a process server as they work in the legal profession, which often requires a strong grasp of written and spoken language. Servers work with legal professionals, including lawyers and judges, and understanding legalese is essential to functioning well. With strong communication skills, a process server can convey information clearly, accurately, and professionally.

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Court filing

Knowledge of the court filing system is important to succeeding as a process server. The service of process typically requires the submission of the relevant paperwork to the courts. Knowing where to submit which document is a necessary skill.

Legal research

Process servers require the ability to conduct legal research to function well in their role. Searching court records is a prerequisite to serving a summons or complaint and one of the functions of servers. This skill includes locating relevant legal documents, interpreting them, and managing citations and references.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

Organizational skills

Process servers often work with multiple files and documents simultaneously. They also keep records of important details of their tasks. Strong organizational skills help maintain these multiple records efficiently.

Read more: Developing Proficient Organizational Skills

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is the ability to efficiently allocate your cognitive resources and achieve thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing tasks. Process servers require this skill to notice the minutest details while carrying out their duties. This ability to note details is essential because a seemingly harmless omission can have significant legal repercussions.

Related: How to Be More Detail-Oriented (With Definition and Resume Tips)

Process server FAQ

The following are some frequently asked questions about process servers:

How much research do process servers perform on a day-to-day basis?

Process servers regularly locate individuals to serve documents. Strong research skills help successfully track down the most up-to-date and accurate information on the individual receiving service. People in this job use public and private databases to research daily.

Do process servers write affidavits?

After serving someone with legal documents, process servers require proof that their delivery methods were successful. Known as an "affidavit of service," this proof requires notarization as protection for the served party, the processor and the individual or organization requesting the service. It's important to know that the regulations regarding serving legal documents, procuring service affidavits, and obtaining notarization vary by province.

What qualities do process servers need for success?

Process servers require various qualities to be successful in this career. It's important that they exhibit a calm disposition as they may encounter individuals who get upset or angry about receiving legal papers. In addition to being calm, the ability to deal with challenging and emotional situations may also be an advantage.

Attention to detail, ensuring that the people they serve with legal documents are the intended recipients, is another important aspect of the job. Paying attention means carefully reviewing confidential documents and records and accurately examining official forms of identification, including driver's licenses and passports. It's important that they also be able to navigate the public records system quickly and accurately.

Related: 12 Types of Careers in Law to Consider (With Salaries)

Can I become a process server without a valid driver's license?

A driver's license is a requirement to become a process server, given the core job function of delivering legal documentation to defendants and other participants in a legal case. Because these documents are legal and confidential, they require timely service and delivery. Travelling by car is a necessity.

Do process servers need a bachelor's degree to secure employment?

Process servers can secure employment without a bachelor's degree. Most employers provide their employees with on-the-job training for servers and offer information regarding proper procedures. There aren't any nationally recognized education requirements for this career. This means that people with a high school diploma or associate degree can apply for a job as a process server.

Do process servers testify in court?

Process servers occasionally present reports of their delivery in court. In certain rare cases, they appear in court to testify they delivered the court papers as directed. Keeping a record of their deliveries can be helpful in such instances.

What is the work environment of process servers?

Process servers work closely with legal professionals. They rarely work regular business hours due to the nature of the job. They often work weekends and weeknights since they’re most likely to find an individual at those times. Process servers often travel since they hand-deliver legal documents. Some individuals are more difficult to locate than others, which makes the job both exciting and challenging.

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