Most process servers are independent contractors. They set up their own service business and provide process serving to individuals, lawyers, and courts. Other process servers may work for small law firms, attorney's offices, or law enforcement agencies on a full-time or part-time basis. Because courts are located throughout the country, process servers will find opportunities just about everywhere. Larger cities will have more opportunities, of course, simply due to the higher concentration of people.
Most process serving companies train their new employees and encourage them to travel with licensed process servers to familiarize them with the job. Because of the flexible hours and hands-on experience with legal papers and cases, process serving is a popular job with students, especially those who are interested in becoming attorneys themselves.
Firms specializing in attorney services will frequently train messengers and other office personnel as process servers, because they are already familiar with legal terms and documents.
The key to landing this job is to network with people in the legal profession. If you or someone in your family knows a lawyer, ask him or her to refer you to someone who may be interested in training a new process server.
A process server may start out as a legal messenger, delivering documents to law offices and filing papers with the city, state, or federal courts. In most jurisdictions, subpoenas don't need to be served by a licensed process server, so an employee of an attorney service can begin a career in process serving in this manner.
Once licensed, a process server can expect to work for a firm as either a salaried employee or a private contractor. As process servers gain experience, they typically serve more papers, and perhaps acquire bigger or more lucrative territory in which to work. In this way, advancement is also tied to the papers themselves.
In a sense, the papers that a process server delivers or serves are actually worth money, but only to the process server who delivers them. Just as private delivery companies charge for their services, process serving companies or individuals also charge for their services. The difference is that the rates are determined by the courts with the amount any given paper is worth legally fixed by law. Usually, the pricing is set in terms of the location of the delivery, the number of miles from the courthouse, and so on, but anything that makes delivery more difficult or time-consuming can add to the cost.
Some process servers use the knowledge and experience they gain working for a firm to start their own businesses. Process servers who operate their own companies are responsible for all aspects of the business, from supervising and training personnel to advertising, accounting, and tax preparation.
Tips for Entry
Talk to attorneys and sheriffs' offices to find out the responsibilities of process servers.
Find a part-time job as a messenger with an attorney's office.
Find career information on the Web site of the National Association of Professional Process Servers (https://www.napps.org).