As long as there are lawsuits being filed, there will be a need for process servers to deliver the documents commencing a legal cause of action. Service of process is a very important aspect of an attorney's practice. If it is discovered that process was not effectively made, it places the whole case at risk of being dismissed. As a result, a process server must know the applicable laws that impact his part of the legal proceeding. Below are steps to starting a process service business.
Secure licensure or certification approval as may be required from agencies in the state the process service business will be operated.
Obtain appropriate general liability insurance to cover the risks associated with the business. This will include workers' compensation insurance if hiring employees.
Perform library research or take a seminar to learn how to conduct investigations and meet the legal requirements for process service in your state. Each state has its own laws regarding the requirements to effect good service of process. The National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) is a great resource for industry information.
Lease an office space. This should be a well thought-out location. Find out how many lawyers are in the office building. Establishing the office close to a community of attorney offices will be an opportunity to network and market the convenience of the business to potential clients.
Purchase necessary equipment. This will include basic office furniture, process server badges, and a computer with a good suite of database management software for maintaining client and case information. Surveillance equipment may also be needed, but consult legal counsel to stay within the boundaries of state law.
Secure notary services for the business. The service documents are legal in nature. Often affidavits from the process server are required to be filed in the court proceeding regarding each case. The owner should become a notary, as well as any process server employees or assistants. If the enterprise will be a sole proprietorship operation, find a nearby notary or mobile notary and negotiate services for volume work.
Plan to spend time on administrative tasks if operating as a solo process server. This will include the important tasks of maintaining accounting, billing, marketing and general business affairs.
Attract clients. Some marketing ideas include advertising in local publications directed at attorneys, such as those published by local and state bar associations. Have a grand opening and send out flyers to local attorneys. A lunch-time grand opening with food and drink is always a good draw for busy lawyers. Have good-quality business cards printed and set up a professional website.
See the NAPPS links to state laws regarding service of process. Remember, however, that laws change and a lawyer should be consulted to ensure compliance.
Each state has different laws. Check the state where the business is domiciled to ensure effective due process and notice under the law.
Consult an attorney or tax professional to address questions regarding the law and tax requirements applicable to a particular business situation.
Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications such as the "Chicago Tribune" and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.