Process Server Training
- January 20
- by Stephanie Irvine
There is more to process serving than meets the eye. People who are unfamiliar with the field may not understand the legal knowledge, skill, and perseverance that are required to get the job done. Ultimately, there’s a lot that process servers need to know, and doing the job right requires training. While some servers never receive any formalized training, there is no doubt that having information more readily available is a benefit. For both those interested in starting a process service career and seasoned veterans, process server training is critical to achieving success in the field. There are a number of options for process server training so it’s worth taking a look to see where to go, what to look for, and why you should consider training even if it’s not required in your state. Let’s take a look at what options exist for those looking for process server training.
Where to go for process server training
There are many options for process server training. Some states offer process server training (and some require it, so check with your state if you’re just starting out), most process serving associations offer training, and there are options for private training courses, which are usually taught by experienced professional process servers. Some of these include the Texas School of Legal Support, CODEX Educational & Legal Services, and AcademyGPPS. If your particular state requires process server training, the state’s court website will likely provide a list of approved training programs.
For example, when you visit the Texas court’s web page for process server training, they provide a list of approved programs, some of which are held by private process servers while others are held by the state association. Private process server Amanda Max and her husband offer training in Texas, explaining, “We are state-approved trainers for new process servers seeking certification and provide continuing education for those who need to renew certification. We plan to roll out more professional development classes in 2021 that assist servers with new technology and better ways of working. You can check out our site here.”
Like Max’s program in Texas, many other private companies across the United States offer training, in addition to in-house training offered by large-scale private process serving companies. State associations are widely known to offer top-notch training. Ernest Moody, whose company Capital Court Services out of Tallahassee, Florida, explained, “I agree with other comments that a ride-along with an experienced server will be extremely valuable, but for the more academic aspects, I highly recommend a program offered by the server's state association if they have one. Here in Florida, we have FAPPS. They offer a fantastic educational program for new servers, as well as continuing education options for servers who are already certified. These programs are great because they focus on local state statutes and procedures.”
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Learn more about your state association’s training offerings by visiting their website. If you’re unfamiliar with the state associations, you can find a list of each state association which includes NAPPS, a nationwide process server association. Some associations with well-regarded courses include GAPPS, CALSPro, and TPSA.
Finally, don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Process server training can come in the form of reading books, attending live, in-person courses, attending seminars, and watching training videos. You can find some of these beginner training resources here. Additional training can also come in the form of attending lectures or events that occur during industry-related trade shows. ServeNow offers pre-recorded training sessions through ServeNow EDU and ServeNow TV. Additionally, ServeNow has hosted meetings in a virtual capacity since the pandemic forced the cancellation of most in-person meetings.
Experience can also come from related jobs. David McClelland of ServLaw explained, “I started as a file clerk for a law firm. [It] was invaluable in knowing how law offices do workflows, the legal processes, and who really makes decisions, when it comes to sending out work.” Similarly, server Robert Juarez explained, “When I started in 1996, I used all my law enforcement and investigator experience as a base for ethics and how to keep it professional. But most process servers, they learn on the job. When I started my business and had to start hiring and training my people, I put together a process server training manual."
What to look for in good programs
Other process servers can be excellent resources for training, but more formalized or structured training can offer some great benefits, too. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to pay a hefty fee to get good training, either. Many process servers have found that they can get some great training without an exorbitant cost.
Process server Torri Schaffer explained that training programs should prepare process servers for what they can expect while on the job, as well as techniques for how to protect themselves. She said, “New servers need to realize that there are risks in serving. Servers need to learn how to stay safe while serving papers. They also need to know what to do if you are assaulted. I have done training and the experienced servers have called me to thank me because sometimes they just let their guard down.”
Ultimately, good programs will be well-rounded, focusing not just on the basics of how to serve. Instead, prospective process servers and others should look for programs that include training on the current laws regarding process service for that state, as well as compliance with privacy laws, proper paperwork, personal safety, locating good addresses, and how to anticipate and react to problems.
Steven Straper who owns Attorney’s Aid Process Service out of New Mexico, explained, “The most important thing I did, which is still the most important part of my work, is that I found and learned the laws regarding serving papers. Later I also found laws regarding trespassing and other laws important to process servers. Federal laws regarding serving collection papers. The laws from states I get the majority of my papers.” Process servers should absolutely look for programs that include some component that focuses on state laws.
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Good process server training programs will likely include multiple sessions in order to cover all of the information necessary to be a good process server. Most importantly, process servers should not expect to learn everything there is about the industry in one session — it’s simply not feasible. This industry, which is often oversimplified, is in fact quite complex.
Process Server Neil Guttenberg explained, “They need to know that they can't learn to be a professional Process Server on [Facebook]. I'm self-taught. I researched and studied for 4 months before I even attempted to serve a paper and I still had lots to learn.”
Process serving mentorship
Several process servers offered that finding a mentor and going on a ride-a-long can provide an invaluable source of knowledge and experience. Process Server Ron Link stated, “I personally think new servers should ride with other experienced process servers. Book training does not get you prepared for actual serves. That adrenaline, the ability to read the person, being a lie detector. Stuff books can not teach.”
Jim Trebowski echoed Link’s sentiments, also emphasizing ride-a-long training: “A ride-along with an experienced server with ethics. The guy I rode with opened up with every serve with ‘I'm sorry to bother you' and always ended with ‘thank you for your time’ and ‘good luck’. I do the same and I can say it's the best training I've gotten.”
Bobby Flores also agreed, “Ride-along with different servers so he/she can see different tactics for serving a person. Every serve might look the same but it's not.”
Process Server Gloria Miller of Gloria Serves Texas advised that in addition to ride-alongs, she “developed a strong support group among other servers.”
Why you should consider training, even when not required
Some process servers may be thinking: if it’s not required, why bother? People are busy enough with family, friends, and obviously, their work. The reality is that the more information you have at your disposal, the more experience that you have under your belt, and the more knowledge you have to do your job, the better you will be.
Brani Andreev, who wrote a book on process server training, shared her experience with process servers from the client side: “In our experience over 30 years, most process servers apply the learn-as-you-go approach or work for an agency in order to get trained. Hands-on experience is indeed a must for all process servers. Having said that, the quality of the work we see throughout the country does reflect this learn-as-you-go approach and is the primary reason for clients' frustrations and their constantly changing process servers. [...] It is certain that formal training is not for everyone, but there are many process servers who would like to see the building of a better image of the process server profession.”
Process servers who have undergone training will be less likely to make mistakes — and that’s something every client would be happy about. Finally, there’s a lot to learn in this industry, and most servers will engage in continuous education, learning something new each year.