Have you ever wondered what exactly a process server does? You’ve probably seen them depicted on legal TV dramas, rapidly knocking on doors to deliver ominous-looking documents.

But there’s much more to process serving than just dramatics. As it turns out, process servers play an incredibly vital role in the legal system.

Understanding what they do and why they do it can give you a whole new appreciation for this profession.

One firm, Preferred Process Servers has laid out exactly what these professionals do. Whether you might someday need to hire a process server yourself or are just curious, read on to get the inside scoop!

Serving Up The Law

The core responsibility of any process server is delivering legal documents to parties involved in a court case.

More specifically, they provide official notice that a legal action is being taken against someone.

Serving Up The Law

Common documents you’ll see them serving include:


An official notice that a lawsuit has been filed against someone. It outlines key details like who’s being sued, the case details, and when/where they must appear in court.


The legal paperwork filed by a plaintiff explaining why they’re suing and what they want in damages or resolution to the case.


An order requiring someone to testify as a witness or provide evidence related to a legal proceeding.


A court order directing someone to do or not do something. For example, a writ of execution orders the seizure and sale of property to satisfy a judgment.

As you can see, process servers handle some pretty important stuff! And the documents they serve can drastically impact people’s lives.

Just imagine being handed a summons informing you that you’re being sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Now you understand why some folks might not be too thrilled to open their door to a process server. But more on that later…

Upholding Due Process

Part of what makes process serving so essential is that it upholds people’s constitutional right to due process.

In simple terms, due process means that the government can’t arbitrarily take away your rights without fair procedures.

This includes getting proper notice and the chance to respond before adverse legal judgments are made against you.

By delivering court papers alerting people about lawsuits filed against them, process servers ensure people receive due process.

They provide vital knowledge so folks can exercise their rights, like seeking legal counsel or gathering evidence in their defense.

So while getting served isn’t fun, you can view process servers as protecting individuals’ liberties rather than just being pesky document-bearers. They provide a structured route for legal resolutions, however messy those may get!

Proof Of Notification

Of course, simply claiming you delivered important court documents isn’t enough. There must be receipts!

Proof Of Notification

Once process servers successfully provide papers to involved parties, they must complete paperwork known as an affidavit or proof of service. This records crucial serving details like:

  • Who specifically got served
  • Date, time & location of service
  • What documents were delivered
  • Method of service (in-person, posted on door, etc.)
  • Any noteworthy details about the service

This documentation serves as court-admissible evidence that proper legal notification occurred.

Because be real – people aren’t always so forthcoming about receiving less-than-stellar news. Having meticulous proof prevents folks from later claiming they never got served.

For process servers, getting this paperwork 100% right is critical. One small slip-up could mean a case gets thrown out due to improper proceedings. No pressure though!

Additional Duties

Process serving definitely keeps people busy, but it’s not always their only responsibility. Many process servers also provide services like:

  • Filing court documents – After delivering papers, process servers often file other legal forms to keep cases progressing smoothly.
  • Skip tracing – Trying to serve evasive people can be tricky especially when they skip accounts and owe money. Skilled process servers use special tactics to uncover their whereabouts.
  • Document retrieval – Process servers are pros at navigating court clerk offices, so attorneys often dispatch them to obtain filed records.

You may also see process servers doing things like recording debtor asset details or even providing testimony on serving difficulties.

The right Preferred Process Server can be an invaluable jack-of-all-trades for legal teams.

Following The Rules

Given how meticulous the legal system is, you won’t be shocked to hear that process servers must adhere to strict regulations. Requirements around licensing, service protocols, and more vary widely between courts.

Some universal rules process servers must follow include:

Licensing & Certifications

Most states mandate process servers register locally or obtain certifications proving their knowledge. Unlicensed servers can face penalties or have their service attempts invalidated.

Service Rules

Specific laws dictate how many attempts servers must make, what times they can visit, and alternate options if people avoid service (like posting papers publicly).

Process servers must document trying every avenue before courts will allow other notification methods due to “unavailability”.

Staying Updated

Legal regulations change frequently, so process servers must diligently stay on top of modifications to service laws in all their jurisdictions. Even minor deviations from protocols could spell disaster for cases.

Succeeding as a process server means developing an encyclopedic knowledge of local laws and hyper-awareness of shifts that could impact their work. No big deal, right?

Serving Skills

Beyond just understanding dense legal jargon, excellent process servers need other specialized abilities like:

Finding People

Finding People

If server targets keep dodging service or move without a forwarding address, servers must become sleuths to track them down.

They leverage public records, online searches, extensive networking and more to determine subjects’ whereabouts.

The reasons for this can be varied but may be customers avoiding payment, or someone dodging divorce papers.

Interpersonal Tact

No one’s happy to get served, so process servers have to carefully navigate delicate interactions.

Using empathy, emotional intelligence and conflict resolution skills helps them achieve their objective without unnecessary aggressiveness.

Meticulous Record-Keeping

As the sole authority documenting service interactions, process servers must write clear, accurate, thorough narratives recalling even minute case details.

Their records directly impact legal outcomes, so recalling specifics like demeanors, conversations and environments is crucial.

Physical Agility

Trying to catch folks at home can mean spending hours sitting in cars while staying razor focused.

Servers need fitness levels allowing them to stay alert and ready to spring into action the second their target emerges.

As you can see, process serving demands an impressive versatility beyond just being legally-savvy.

Serving Styles

You might assume all process servers operate similarly, but there’s actually great diversity in how they structure their work. First, servers can be either independent solo operators or part of larger firms.

For newer servers, joining established companies helps them learn effective strategies for tackling this challenging career. Having mentorship and infrastructure support makes building expertise much easier.

Seasoned process servers often strike out alone leveraging their networks and wealth of experience.

Control over their own workflow, schedules and geographic range gives greater freedom. Though they also assume more financial risk without corporate backing.

Independent and agency-based servers both play critical roles meeting legal system needs nationwide. In fact, large process serving firms now use expansive networks with tens of thousands of servers across multiple countries!

Yet whether servers go solo or opt for being part of broader infrastructure, everyone relies heavily on technology to excel as process servers today.

Apps assisting with organizing routes, GPS tracking, real-time court record lookups and collection automation help servers work smarter.

Specialization also allows some servers to focus solely on highly-nuanced tasks like serving commercial vehicle operators or businesses avoiding employee wage judgments.

Excelling in tricky niches takes the right Preferred Process Server with both legal and subject matter mastery.

Occupational Hazards

Despite sounding straightforward in theory, successfully serving court papers can prove extremely challenging in reality.

Occupational Hazards

Servers often face predicaments like:

Evasive Targets

Folks intentionally dodging service employ clever tricks trying to avoid accepting documents – hiding out with friends & family, using decoy cars in driveways, monitoring activity from windows while refusing to answer doors, etc. Very determined targets can be nightmarishly difficult for servers to pin down.

Hazardous Conditions

Servers must venture into unfamiliar neighborhoods of wildly varying safety levels hunting targets.

They risk stray bullets from gang violence, dog bites from unsecured animals, verbal/physical aggression from belligerent people, health hazards in condemned buildings…servers courageously confront environments most would prudently avoid.

Stressed-Out Subjects

Court cases breed immense anxiety and frustration for involved parties that sometimes boils over onto conveniently-present process servers.

Servers weather the full gamut of emotions – desperate pleading, enraged shouting, uncontrollable sobbing – while resolutely persisting to achieve service.

Time Constraints

Legal and practical limitations create tight windows for servers to accomplish their work before options expire.

Racing against rigid deadlines while navigating extremely unpredictable conditions causes immense pressure. A single day’s delay could upend months of legal maneuverings.

As you see, process serving involves far greater challenges than just locating people and handing over envelopes! Successfully overcoming endless obstacles demands rare perseverance.

Wrapping It Up

While you’ve covered a whole lot here, hopefully you now better understand the critical importance of process servers!

They shoulder immense responsibility requiring exceptional capabilities few could successfully handle.

Next time you see process servers depicted on TV or in movies, you’ll surely view them with greater appreciation and awe.

And if you ever receive the dreaded knock of a court document delivery, try extending some empathy to the person behind it. They’re just doing their tough – yet invaluable – job in the legal system!

The next time legal needs arise, be sure to hire a reputable, experienced Preferred Process Server to set your mind at ease. Superior expertise makes all the difference!