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How Process Servers Can Easily Work with Pro Se Clients

What is a pro se client?

A pro se client is an individual who is acting on their own behalf, without a lawyer. Pro se is Latin for "on one's own behalf" or "for oneself."

Best Practices with Pro Se Clients

Pro se clients present a somewhat daunting dilemma for legal professionals including process servers. By definition, pro se involves advocating on one’s own behalf and there tend to be a large number of these types of clients in marital disputes and small claims cases. One of the biggest reasons for the increase in pro se clients is a growing belief that attorneys do not operate in their best interests, as well as the costs of full-service legal representation.

As a process server, managing pro se clients presents a number of special considerations. Pro se clients are more hands-on than attorneys and, therefore, require more attention. This attention can take the form of being informed about the nature of the documents being served, the process of process serving, what the client can expect from the server and a tentative time frame.

Here is a short list of specifics process servers can address with their pro se clients.

  1. First and foremost, try to get as much information from the client as to whom you will be serving such as description, work hours, vehicle driven, etc. Ask them for a picture of the party to be served, if possible.
  2. Provide an overview of the process serving process. Explain the nature of the documents and the difference between personal and substituted service. Reassure them with your knowledge and experience.
  3. Give the client a fairly detailed time frame estimate when he or she can expect that service will be accomplished. Explain that sometimes the process can take longer than originally expected.
  4. Once the job and payment have been received, contact the client with an outline of the process and how they'll be notified of updates.
  5. Contact the client regularly to provide status updates in a timely manner. Process servers should be proactive with all clients about status updates and email the status of the papers regularly. This will help diminish excessive phone calls from nervous clients.
  6. Be available to answer questions from the client (within reason). Frantic telephone calls at midnight need not be answered, but responding to a telephone call or email should occur in a timely manner. Pro se clients will be consumed with a number of concerns and will likely be trying to contact you frequently for status checks and reassurance.
  7. Notify the client as soon as possible after the papers are served. Inform the client that he or she will be receiving a copy of the proof of service in the mail in the next few days.
  8. Finally, follow up with the client to ensure that he or she is satisfied with your service.

While it is critical to remain patient, courteous, and professional at all times, it is even more necessary for pro se clients because they are not legal professionals and only have a rudimentary, if that, knowledge of civil law. While pro se clients can be difficult, remember to treat all clients with the same level of respect as it'll help maintain your company's reputation. Not only are they paying customers, but they're likely the ones to leave online reviews.

Doing so will ensure the preservation of both your and the client’s sanity and may result in recommendations or repeat business.

More about Pro Se Clients:

Why it’s Worthwhile to Work with Pro Se Clients

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