When clients decide to file pro se, they are often doing so for the first time. Be sure to keep in mind these tips when working with pro se clients so they feel at ease that you’re handling their papers properly and professionally.
Explain the process of service to the client: If you work solo as a process server, make sure you explain the process of serving papers and the affidavit they will receive once service has been completed. If you’re working for a company, it’s likely your process administrator will have explained it all, but make sure to answer those questions if the client asks you as well.
Communicate directly with the client if given the opportunity: This can provide a direct line to someone who may know the most about the defendant’s whereabouts. It will always be a process server’s choice to call the client, but when a client is willing to work with the server to make service easier, it’s highly recommended. Especially if you are working with a landlord, property manager, or spouse filing for dissolution of marriage, asking if you can call them prior to attempting service can allow for them to share any information they may have at that time.
Keep “after hours” enforced: Make sure the client knows that it is only okay to reach you during your specified work hours. Give them a reasonable time frame during the day for them to reach out with information they believe would benefit your attempts at service.
Answer questions reasonably: If this is the first time someone is having papers served, it is likely they will ask a lot of questions. Be honest with your answers, and make sure they know that while you will try your hardest to assist them with service of the documents, you can never guarantee that you will be able to serve a defendant. You can work with your client as to ideal times of day and locations at which the defendant may be, but ultimately, there is never a guarantee that service will be effectuated.
Ask for all the details: It’s always about the details. Regardless of the type of papers that you’re serving, ask for as many details as possible. Some clients may know a lot, while some might not know as much, but it’s better to ask when you received the papers than wait until you’re on the last attempt.
What other recommendations do you have for working with pro se clients?
By: Sarah Masa-Myers