Essential Tools of the Trade – Service of Process
by Steve Ezell
Delivering of legal proceedings to a named party as notification is a simple concept. While the concept may be simple the execution requires a consistent plan of action that utilizes the latest Tools of the Trade that, if properly executed, will save your firm, and your clients, money, time, and much stress. Essential tools can be loosely grouped into two main categories—Time Savers and Comfort Providers.
Document Scanning– choose an entity that will provide all of your relevant documentation in digital form. Scanned documents are much easier to store, search and maintain than hard copies. Whether it is a scanned return of service, an affidavit supporting publication, or copy of the subpoena, having the document scanned for you saves time.
Online Access– choose an entity that utilizes an online resource where you can check on the status of your service, review scanned documents and interact with the file. Sure, there are always times where a phone call is necessary but in most cases you can update your file, or your client, from an online resource if one is available to you.
Ancillary Services– a licensed process server, or a constable, is all that is needed to serve or deliver a legal paper. However, what leads up to that service, and what follows that service, is far more involved. Choose an entity that will assist you throughout the litigation cycle. Where possible, leverage your vendor to assist with filings, document retrieval, locate services and asset searches.
Breadth of Services– your provider will assist you in Dallas, maybe even contiguous areas like Fort Worth, but will they assist you as your needs arise outside of your core area? Choose an entity that will cover your full possible range of needs. Qualified service providers can remove this taxing and time consuming task from your staff.
Insurance– it is far from a perfect world, what happens if your next big case is not executed properly and you, and your client, lose out? Choose an entity that is reliable, professional and insured with the appropriate level of Errors and Omissions Professional Liability Insurance.
Service Verification– whether it is photos, video recordings, voice recordings and/or GPS certifications, should your service be contested do you have proof that the process server or constable was where they said they were when they said they were there? More commonly, do you have intelligence from the field that can support alternate service or empower you at your hearing?
Account Manager– nothing of the sort is available with the historical service providers in Texas. If you use an individual process server for all your needs make sure you have comfort in being able to reach that person, ask questions, get support, etc. If choosing an entity, make sure you will be assigned an account manager that you can collaborate with for both recurring and unusual service requirements.
In summary, your process server in 2012 looks nothing like your process server from days gone by. In 1979 EZ Messenger began in the Legal Support Industry as a single employee who quickly recognized the future of technology and was one of the first in the industry to use new EDP possibilities to provide enhanced and relevant services to a growing list of clients. We have continued to improve on that model and always are looking for new services and tools to make life easier for our clients. In a fast moving world where geographical barriers become blurred, having a process server with a technological focus and breadth of operations is as essential as having a computer for your legal staff.
Steve Ezell is Managing Member at EZ Messenger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 748-4200.