PI Magazine Article: 5 Things We’ve Learned About Process Serving in the Last Year
In the News
The past year has been filled with news items that have taught us a few things about the state of the process serving industry. Some of the news has been good, some bad, and some simply interesting. With changes in technology and legislation constantly swirling around, it’s clear that the next decade will be a time of great change for process servers. After a solid year of monitoring process serving news, we’ve compiled this list of five things to to keep an eye on in the process server world.
1. Process servers are getting the Hollywood treatment
The film and television industries have a much different perception of process servers than what we know to be true. “Pineapple Express” put servers in the mainstream spotlight by featuring a process server who has a car trunk full of disguises that he uses on the job. Many real process servers try to avoid using costumes and props, but if you ask a high percentage of the public what a process server is, they’ll likely give you a blank look until you ask, “Have you ever seen that movie ‘Pineapple Express’?”
Television continues to further the film industry’s portrayal of process servers with “reality” shows such as “All Worked Up” on TruTV. In a similar vein to Duane “Dog” Chapman becoming the face of bounty hunters everywhere, TruTV has tagged Byran McElderry to be a representative of process servers. The show features McElderry as he gets in heated confrontations with the people he is attempting to serve. People who are familiar with process serving will be able to take much of the show with a grain of salt because they know that servers are able to avoid confrontation by not taking big risks and by defusing bad situations. But from an average TV-watcher’s perspective, McElderry’s sometimes over-the-top tactics are what a process server does on a daily basis.
2. Associations are spreading like wildfire
Process servers across the country are recognizing that in order to protect their rights and change local laws to help them work more effectively, it helps to band together. Seven state associations have formed over the past year, with more currently being discussed. Some process servers are forming associations in their states in response to specific threats, while others simply want to be proactive about strengthening their presence.
Many of these associations have a head-start because their members have a firm grasp on technology — such as websites and social media — which gives them more ways to get their message out nationwide. As Steven Glenn, president of the newly formed Process Servers Association of Colorado, often says, associations have the power to protect the businesses of all process servers from harsh penalties brought on when unscrupulous or untrained process servers bring unwanted attention upon the industry.
3. Social media is slowly shaping service of process
Countries worldwide are relaxing their policies regarding service of process by social media, which is something that has been on process servers’ radars for a while. Recently, Great Britain and Australia allowed people to serve foreclosure notices via Facebook messages. The United States remains hesitant to jump on board the social media wagon when it comes to service of process, but with social media having already infiltrated almost every corner of the world, it seems like only a matter of time. The potential impact that these developments could have on the process serving industry remains to be seen, but the legal industry will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the news.
4. Process server safety is still paramount
Despite all efforts by associations and other groups to help process servers work more safely, the news still carries the occasional story about process servers being shot at or chased with baseball bats. Potential violence is an unfortunate part of the job, but experienced process servers are often full of useful tricks to mitigate the risk. If you have a state association, it would be beneficial for you to attend a meeting or become a member, as you can receive many helpful tips about safety, business and more from your peers. Even if you don’t have a state association, it wouldn’t hurt to contact other local process servers and discuss the industry.
5. Education is necessary to protect the process serving industry
Though the process serving industry today is light years ahead of where it was 20 years ago in terms of education, there’s still a ways to go. After finding news items about sewer service, trespassing, harassment, faulty affidavits and more over the past year, it’s clear that there is still a divide between the experienced, knowledgeable process servers and those who are only in the industry to make a quick buck.
The shame of it is that these fly-by-night process servers aren’t thinking twice about the negative consequences they are causing to process servers who have built up their businesses over the years and have gained success the hard way. Every big news story that comes out detailing the harmful actions of an unprofessional server damages process servers’ reputations in the eyes of law enforcement, government and clients. The good news is that, as evidenced by the number of associations springing up nationwide, the process servers who want to protect the industry are taking notice and doing something about the situation.
One interesting aspect of the process serving world is that usually negative stories are the only ones that make it to mainstream media. When everything goes right, process servers are generally absent from the news. Those in the industry know that these negative stories are based on the actions of a few and don’t represent the majority of hard-working process servers who take the business seriously. So the next time you see an interesting news story about process servers, feel free to analyze it and assess its potential impact. The few minutes you spend ruminating on the subject could lead to a better way of doing things for process servers locally or nationwide.
As Director of Marketing and Multimedia, Kimberly sets strategy for outreach, distribution, social media, and network growth, and manages multimedia production for the network. She has a Bachelor of Science with a background in design, marketing, production, editorial, and operations and strategy. Kimberly consults with the production, operations, and tech teams on a variety of projects and initiatives. You can follow Kimberly on Twitter at @kimberlyfaber.