The term “process server” might be familiar to you, and chances are high that you’ve seen a process server at work, either in real life or in movies.
Process servers are professionals responsible for delivering legal or court documents, such as summonses, subpoenas, and complaints, to individuals involved in a court case.
Are you interested in becoming a process server and want to know what their job involves? In this article, we have covered the basics of becoming a process server, the roles of these legal professionals, and some tips to succeed in your career.
What is a Process Server?
A process server is a person authorized to deliver or “serve” legal documents to a defendant or witness in a legal case. The process server’s job is to ensure that the documents are delivered properly and that proof of delivery can be provided to the court.
Here are a few examples of the types of documents that a process server may be responsible for delivering:
- Summons and Complaints
- Restraining Orders
- Eviction Notices
- Divorce Papers
Besides delivering legal documents to the right people, process servers also provide a number of other functions to the legal system and court. For example, they help file confidential court papers/ transcripts. Plus, they retrieve and deliver other official documents as required by the legal system of the state.
What Does the Job Role of a Process Server Involve?
Process servers are critical to a wide array of legal tasks making their job role a little complex. The primary task of their job role includes serving or delivering legal documents such as complaints or summons to the individual (s) and other people involved in a legal matter.
It may involve visiting the individual’s home, place of work, or other location to deliver the documents in person. In some cases, the process server may be required to track down the individual in order to serve them the documents.
In addition to delivering the documents, the role of a process server required them to provide proof of delivery to the court. For example, completing an affidavit of process service, which is a sworn statement attesting to the fact that the documents were properly served. The process server may also be required to testify in court about the process of serving the documents.
Other tasks that a process server may be responsible for include:
- Researching the location and contact information of the individual to be served using the available public and private databases.
- Contacting the individual to arrange a convenient time and place to serve the documents in person. The mode of communication can be anything, such as over the phone or email.
- Ensuring that the legal document is delivered in accordance with the specific rules and regulations of the jurisdiction where the case is being heard.
- Maintaining accurate records of all documents served and the dates and times of service.
- Handling any objections or resistance to being served the documents.
- Dealing with any legal issues that may arise during the process of serving legal documents.
How to Get a Job as a Process Server in New York
Every state has different sets of rules for individuals interested in becoming process servers. To operate as a process server in New York, you don’t need a state-wide license. However, you must fulfill some local process server license requirements to get a job.
For example, the City of New York requires you to be licensed through the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs if you are looking to serve the five (5) boroughs area including Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
For serving in areas requiring a process server license, you must serve five or more processes within one year.
Government employees and attorneys admitted in practice in NY that serve process as a part of their job are exempt from this license requirement.
There are three stages you need to qualify or fulfill to get a job role as a professional process server. Below we have explained the three stages in detail to help you understand what you need to do:
- Fulfill the state’s requirements (explained the required qualifications for New York)
- Get Trained
- Find Work
Requirements to Become a Licensed Process Server in New York
In New York, professional process servers must be at least 18 years old and must be able to read and write English. They must also be registered with the county clerk’s office in the county where they will be serving papers. Some other essential requirements you need to fulfill include the following:
- Complete basic individual license application and all necessary paperwork
- Passport-sizes photograph
- Background check
- Licensing fee
- New York Process Server Bond
Here’s everything explained in detail:
Fill Out the License Application
You can do this in two ways- either you can submit the application online at New York City Consumer Affairs website, or you can download the Basic Individual License Application and submit it in person.
Provide the Latest Passport-sized Photographs
If you submit the application in person, you can have your photographs for free at the DCA Licensing Center. In case of online submissions, you can upload the files (in the required format) on the website as asked.
Provide a Background Check
Providing a background check is a must for qualifying to become a legal process server in New York. According to the laws, you must have a clean record to get a job as a process server.
Purchase the New York Process Server Bond
Another must-fulfill requirement for becoming a process server is purchasing a surety bond that aims to protect both clients and the court. It’s similar to a type of insurance that every candidate looking to work as a process server must provide. For individual process servers, the bond amount is $10,000, and for agencies, it’s $100,000.
Your credit score has a significant impact on the amount you pay for the bond application. Candidates with a good score can secure the bond at approx. 1-4% rate, whereas individuals with a lousy score may need to pay up to 15% of the total bond amount.
Complete the Required Paperwork
The paperwork may differ based on whether you are applying as an individual or an agency. In New York, individuals are required to pass a Process Server Individual Exam and complete the Record-keeping Certification, Electronic Device Verification, and Child Support Certification. For agencies, it’s essential to complete the Roster of Process Serving Agencies.
You can visit the New York City Consumer Affairs website for more information regarding the paperwork required to become a process server.
Pay the Fee and Submit Your Application
Finally, submit your application and pay the required licensing fee. If you want to submit it in person, then visit the DCA Licensing Center between 9 am and 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and 8:30 am to 5 pm on Friday and Wednesday. Generally, it takes around two weeks for the licensing application to be issued.
A trained candidate has a better chance of securing a job as a process server. If you are new in this industry, getting trained by an agency is important. There are two ways to get trained as a process server:
Process Server Training Programs
Many process server training programs are available in New York, which can provide you with information on the laws and regulations related to serving papers, as well as practical skills such as how to locate individuals and serve papers effectively.
Some of these training programs are online, but many are in-person, in case you prefer a hands-on approach.
There are some agencies that train the new process servers on the job. You can learn the necessary information and skills while working under the guidance of an experienced process server.
If you don’t want to enroll in a training program, and there are no such on-the-job opportunities, then self-study is the best option. You can also study and learn about the laws and regulations related to the serving process on your own. There are plenty of books, such as The Practical Guide To Process Serving and other resources on the subject, which can help you learn about the legal requirements and best practices for serving papers.
Once you are registered and trained, you can start looking for job opportunities as a process server in New York. Here are a few ways to find work as a process server:
Process Serving Agencies (Best for New Candidates without a Huge Network)
One way to find work as a process server is to apply to work for a process-serving agency. These agencies often hire process servers on a freelance or contract basis, and they can provide you with a steady stream of clients and assignments, so you don’t need to find clients on your own.
Legal Firms such as Levine & Blit
Another option is to contact legal firms in New York and offer your services as a process server. These firms often need process servers to serve papers for their clients and may be looking for someone with your skills and experience.
At Levine & Blit, we hire reliable process servers, and you can join us for a flourishing career by serving processes in New York and the surrounds. Contact us for more information.
Online Job Boards
There are many online job boards that list job opportunities for process servers. You can use these job boards to search for job openings that match your skills and experience.
Work as an Independent Contractor
You can also work as an independent contractor, advertising your services to the public and taking on clients directly. This can be a great way to build your own client base, but it requires you to handle all of your company’s marketing and business management aspects.
It’s worth noting that the process of finding work as a process server can vary depending on your location and the current job market. You may need to be persistent and apply to multiple job openings or reach out to multiple legal firms before you land your first job.
What Skills are Required for the Job?
To become a successful process server, you must possess certain skills, abilities, and knowledge. Some of the skills required to become a professional process server include:
Knowledge of Legal Procedures
A process server should have a good understanding of the legal procedures related to the service of process, including the laws and regulations governing the service of process in the jurisdiction where they will be working. For example, if you want to become a process server in New York, you must know the state-wise regulations regarding serving legal papers to individuals.
Ability to Research
As a process server, you must be able to research and locate individuals in order to serve papers to them. This can require a range of research skills, including the ability to use various online tools, public and private databases, and social media to track people (in a legal way).
Good Communication and Interpersonal Skills
The job of a process server requires him to communicate effectively with a wide range of individuals, including defendants, witnesses, legal professionals, and clients. You should be able to clearly and professionally explain the process of “service of process” and any legal documents you are serving.
As a process server, you should be able to handle a variety of different situations and people. Sometimes you may encounter people who are unwilling or unable to be served, the job requires you to be able to handle any objections or resistance in a professional and diplomatic manner.
Attention to Detail
Process severs should be detail-oriented, as they are responsible for ensuring that all legal documents are served in accordance with the specific rules and regulations of the New York state or respective jurisdiction where the case is being heard.
Time Management and Organizational Skills
As a process server, you must be able to manage the time and workload efficiently. You should be able to prioritize and organize the assigned tasks in order to be as productive as possible.
Physical Stamina and Mobility
Process servers need to travel to different locations to serve the process, so you should have the required skills, such as stamina and mobility, to easily access the location of the recipients where the process needs to be served.
The job of a process server can be quite challenging, however, if you possess most of these skills, you can become a successful one. All the skills mentioned above can be learned and acquired, and the more versatile you are and the more opportunities you’ll have.
The Risks of Becoming a Process Server
Being a process server can be a challenging and rewarding job. But it also comes with certain risks you must know about before opting for such roles. Some risks that process servers may face include the following:
Process servers are responsible for ensuring that legal documents are served in accordance with the specific rules and regulations of the jurisdiction. If they fail to do this, they may be held liable for any legal consequences that result.
While serving processes, these professionals often come across individuals who are hostile or violent and may be at risk of physical harm. It’s important for process servers to be vigilant all the time and take help from other departments, such as local police, when serving individuals with a bad record.
Risk of Arrest
In some places, serving papers is considered a civil matter, and a process server can’t be arrested for it. However, in other places, a process server can be arrested if they do not abide by the service of process rules.
For example, if the process server trespasses into someone’s property without their permission, they can be sued for it.
If you follow all the rules and regulations and work in a legal manner, you don’t need to worry about any risks. Process servers are also trained to deal with hostile individuals, and it’s a part of their job.
Want to Work as a Process Server in New York? Contact Levine and Blit
If you’d like to hear more about the role of a process Server in New York get in touch with Levine & Blit today! We are a team of professional attorneys in New York looking forward to joining hands with dedicated process servers.