Optimizing Legal Workflows: Enhance firm efficiency with online process servers
In 2023, work is accomplished in very different ways than in years past. Because of pandemic-related technology adoption, familiarity with cloud computing and remote work tools has increased dramatically.
More than ever, legal professionals are using online tools to accomplish what was once available only through in-person interaction. One example of this transformation is the increase in the number of online service of process sites.
Service of process management moves online
Traditionally, process servers were local businesses and their services were obtained over the phone. A secretary or paralegal would make a call and put in a request for the service of documents. In keeping with the overall trend of services and software moving online, many service of process companies created websites, eventually adding online intake forms or customer portals.
With the advent of online process server websites, the intake function no longer needed to be locally based. This development allowed national companies to manage requests for process servers, then delegate assignments to local process servers in relevant jurisdictions. As part of the remote work transformation, companies providing nationwide service of process via web portals have only increased over time, offering efficiency and convenience for lawyers seeking to quickly and easily request the service of documents.
Choosing an online service of process provider
Below, I provide an overview of the top online processing services for lawyers. You’ll learn about the features and benefits of these services, allowing you to make informed decisions when selecting the most appropriate provider to support your legal practice. By carefully evaluating each company’s features, jurisdictional coverage and pricing, you’ll be well equipped to identify the services that best align with your firm’s workflow requirements, ultimately enhancing overall efficiency.
You’ll notice that some of the companies integrate with popular primary operating systems of law firms, including law practice management software and document management software. These integrations provide value by centralizing the storage of all information relating to the service of process, including documentation and associating it with the appropriate matter located in the integrated document management or practice management software. This automatic transfer of relevant data is both convenient and increases overall efficiency.
Additionally, note that the services listed below include only some of the options available. There are certainly other ways to get documents served, including local process server companies that use online portals or intake forms.
Choosing whether to use a national or local company will depend on your firm’s needs and priorities. Factors to consider when choosing a provider include your firm’s location, the city or state in which documents will need to be served, comfort level and familiarity with the company or individuals providing the services, and cost.
Before we dive into the tools available, it’s important to note that whenever you retain the services of a process server, you are entrusting confidential client information to a third party. As a result, ethical obligations require you to thoroughly vet the provider to ensure you understand how the data will be handled by that company, where it will be stored are located and who will have access to the data, among other factors.
Online service of process providers
Let’s start with InfoTrack, a company that provides a number of services including service of process. It offers service of process nationwide. InfoTrack accounts are free and must be connected to one of the company’s eight integration partners, which consist primarily of law practice management or document management software programs. A fee is charged for each service of process request, but prices vary depending on the jurisdiction, the method requested and the time frame in which service of process must be accomplished.
Next, there’s Proof, a software platform that provides law firms with nationwide service of process. Integration with another software platform is not required for use, but it does integrate with two law practice management systems, MyCase and Clio. Pricing is per request and varies depending on the jurisdiction in which you’re located and the time frame in which you’ll need service to be completed. There are additional costs for certain types of requests, such as service by a sheriff, service in a prison or military base, or service of a restraining order.
Another option is Process Server One, a company that provides nationwide process services through its website. Requests can either be made on a case-by-case basis via its website intake form or you can sign up for an account so that you can make requests via an online portal. The company has regional offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, and it relies on its nationwide network of process servers for other locations. Pricing is not available on the website.
Finally, One Source Process also provides service of process in all U.S. states and territories using a national network of process servers. Orders are accepted via the website. Pricing for “routine” service of process in all U.S. jurisdictions within 5-7 business days starts at $125, with the costs increasing for more expedited service of process. Regardless of the type of service of process chosen, additional fees may apply for “addresses beyond city limits, rural areas & U.S. Territories.”
Leveraging online service of process tools can play a key role in streamlining your law firm’s workflows and increasing service of process efficiency. You have several options to choose from, so dive in and discover how online process server companies can centralize the management of service of process requests and pave the way for greater productivity and success.
Updated on April 24 to reflect that InfoTrack offers service of process nationwide.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-based attorney, author and journalist, and she is senior director of subject matter expertise and external education at MyCase, a company that offers legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She also is co-author of Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for ABAJournal.com and Above the Law; has authored hundreds of articles for other publications; and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.