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Skills of a Successful Process Server

The process server's job is to deliver court notifications and summons to those who are involved in legal matters. Although the job may be seen as merely that of a messenger or courier, the skills required to be an excellent process server go far beyond those of a traditional messenger. The process server meets people at a unique point in their lives. Their reactions run the gamut from startled to angry, and pleasant to evasive. The process server must be able to size up a recipient and modify his behavior and mannerisms to evoke the best possible response. Here is a summary of the skills that are needed to be a successful process server.

In many jurisdictions, local law enforcement officials routinely make the first attempt to serve process in any case. If things go well, the papers are served and the officer moves on. If there are difficulties, however, the officer may not have the time to dedicate to the situation. Often it is only at this point that an outside process server becomes involved.

The process server must be both persistent and patient. The situation may be complex, requiring the server to enter into a cat and mouse game. Sometimes outright surveillance and trailing are necessary. The server may need to interview the recipient's family and friends, gather information as to his or her movements and even set up ambushes.

Quick Thinking
The process server must be able to think one step ahead of the recipient. He or she must be able to lay out a plan for serving an individual, yet change that plan at a moment's notice. The server must always react out of logic rather than emotion and must always remain conscious of federal, state and local laws.

Thick Skinned and Calm
A process server may be made fun of, have doors slammed in his face or even be physically threatened. He or she must be thick skinned enough not to take these attacks personally. She must be able to remain calm and logical even in heated situations.

Diligent and Informed
A good process server understands the need to be fully prepared before attempting to serve papers. He or she will work to develop an understanding of the recipient's appearance, demeanor, habits and other important traits. He will be able to keep his overall goal in mind, and recognize when it is necessary to abort an attempt in favor of trying a new plan.

A defense attorney may attempt to challenge the service in an effort to have the case thrown out. The process server should, therefore, be extremely knowledgeable in the laws and procedures that govern process serving. He or she must be confident that the service was performed legally and properly, and be able to defend the circumstances against challenges.

The Bottom Line
There is much more to being a process server than simply delivering paperwork to a known address. The process server must be equal parts messenger and detective. She must be able to read people and situations quickly and accurately. A thick skin, persistent nature and ability to remain calm under pressure are critical attributes. He or she must also be knowledgeable of the relevant laws and procedures, and able to maintain focus even in heated situations.

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