How to Hire a Process Server: 3 Tips for Success

Process serving

Whether you’re a new lawyer, a veteran legal professional, a large law firm, or a small boutique agency, you’ll likely need to hire a process server for certain cases. Perhaps you’ve worked with professional process servers before but never in the state of California. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re wondering how to hire someone to serve papers or, more specifically, how to hire a process server in California, you’ll need to know how to vet potential partners across factors such as experience, service range, and availability.

In this complete guide to hiring a process server, we’ll provide tips for hiring the ideal professional in California. We’ll also offer nationwide best practices so you know what to look for when hiring, no matter where you need service or process support. 

1. Identify Your Needs for a Process Server

So, what is a process server, and why do you need one in the first place? A professional process server plays an integral role in the legal process, specifically helping to alert all necessary parties that they are required for a legal proceeding on a certain date at a specific time.

A process server specializes in delivering the relevant court documents to the defendants, witnesses, or otherwise involved parties in a court case so that the legal proceedings can ensue without issue. The process server is charged with personally delivering these legal documents and filing proof of their reception, although there are occasionally other delivery methods at their disposal.

Hiring a process server benefits your legal team in several ways. First, allowing a professional process server to track down and serve papers to the relevant parties takes a significant burden off of your plate, especially if the defendant is challenging to find. Second, process servers are experts in the local laws and standards of serving papers in their jurisdictions, making them the most reliable choice for your service of process needs and helping keep cases on schedule and avoid penalties.

Reliable and accurate court reporting services. Learn more!

2. Vet Potential Process of Service Partners

Finding the best-suited process server for your firm’s needs will involve research and proper due diligence to gauge a candidate’s background, experiences, service area, and availability. 

A litigation support services partner assists with many essential legal operations—and providing excellent process server partners is one of them. If your firm requires services in California, Texas, or Florida, U.S. Legal Support is a great place to start your search for professional and seasoned process servers.

Credentials and Experience

The ideal process server partner will have a wealth of experience and the proper training credentials mandated by the area they serve. All process servers must typically hold valid driver’s licenses and provide their own transportation. The ability to drive themselves is essential to enabling process servers to travel wherever a defendant or witness resides to serve them papers.

Additionally, qualified process servers must undergo state or county-mandated training courses to learn the locally accepted methods of serving court documents. A process server typically registers with their local court system in order to take assignments and undergoes a licensure exam process if their state requires licensure. 

Any complimentary credits, such as certificates from ethics or safety courses or fluencies in multiple languages, may help your firm decide on the right process server for the job. In most cases, the minimum requirements for registration as a process server are to be at least 18 years old, be a legal resident of the state or county you serve, and have a clean criminal history.

Service Range and Availability

It’s important to remember that process servers typically serve within a limited range. Some of the factors that may limit a process server’s range include the following:

  • State borders – A process server is usually legally certified to serve in one state or region. That means that even if they operate near the border between two or multiple states, they may only be able to perform their legal function within one of those states.
  • Local laws – The nuances of local and regional regulations around process serving are complex to navigate for those unfamiliar with the area. For optimal results, your firm should hire a process server who is deeply familiar with the area where you need to serve papers. This will prevent breaches of local law that could harm your legal proceedings and enable a faster, more reliable process serving procedure.
  • Place of residence – A process server’s range is typically limited based on where they live. While they usually provide their own transportation and can serve within a wide area, some states, like California, are too big for one process server to serve the whole state reasonably. In the case of California, you will want to opt for a process server based out of one of California’s many regions, such as Southern California or the Bay Area.

Availability may also be a concern when seeking a qualified process server. If your firm is encountering challenges trying to hire in-demand process servers directly, it may benefit you to partner with a litigation support services vendor. They can connect you with one of many experienced, skillful, and certified process servers within their vetted network.

3. Understand Service Agreements

When you connect with your process server of choice and arrive at the negotiation of the service agreement, it may be helpful to know all of the options available to you and the limitations of your agreement. 

For example, process service vendors or individual process servers may offer expedited services for additional fees. Expedited service is helpful when a last-minute development in your case requires you to circulate the necessary documentation at a more urgent pace than usual.

Your service agreement may include a certain number of attempts to deliver the court documents personally. “Personal service” is the most desirable form of process service because it guarantees that the correct party received the proper documentation, and the process server can produce evidence and answer questions to support the successful delivery. However, some states, like California, accept alternate delivery methods if the personal service is unsuccessful.

Types of Process Service

Aside from personally handing off the legal papers to the direct parties, process servers have several different methods of delivering court documents depending on the area they operate and the case circumstances.

For example, in California, process servers may use substituted service to drop off the legal papers to another individual at the target party’s home residence or office location after several unsuccessful attempts to make a personal delivery.1 In certain scenarios, such as delivering eviction notices, a process server may have the right to post the notice at the location of the eviction.

In Massachusetts, if a process server cannot determine a defendant’s location in coordination with local law enforcement, they may ask the court’s permission to publish an order of notice in a local publication, such as a newspaper.2

See related: What Papers Does a Process Server Serve?

Where to Find a Reliable Process Server in CA

If you operate in California, your firm could spend days or weeks interviewing potential service partners without finding the right combination of experience, credentials, and availability.

U.S. Legal Support offers process serving throughout Texas, Florida, and California. Our network of professionals adheres to all local regulations and holds necessary licenses to operate where required. With U.S. Legal Support, you’ll have access to some of the most experienced and professional process servers within the community, who expertly work within your firm’s needs, timeline, and budget.

U.S Legal Support offers in-person process serving. The process includes three delivery attempts, as well as frequent status updates and proof of service sent conveniently via email. We can also offer skip/locate services, additional delivery attempts, and rush service upon request.

U.S. Legal Support: Your Full-Service Partner for Process Serving and More

Hiring the right process server in California doesn’t have to be a hassle. Utilize U.S. Legal Support’s professional network to hire the most reliable and efficient professionals without expending valuable time and labor within your firm.

Your firm takes exceptional care of its clients and cases and balances many legal operations delicately to achieve high standards. U.S. Legal Support understands that cases of any size can be challenging to keep on track because of many complexities. As such, we offer a full suite of legal support services to help ensure your firm’s efficiency and success.

Whether you need help with faster record retrieval, reliable court reporting, transcription services, or a dependable process server, U.S. Legal Support can significantly impact your firm’s operations today. Contact an expert on the U.S. Legal Support team to get started today.


  1. California Courts. Service of Court Papers.
  2. Completing service of process if you don’t know where the defendant lives.
Julie Feller
Julie Feller
Julie Feller is the Vice President of Marketing at U.S. Legal Support where she leads innovative marketing initiatives. With a proven track record in the legal industry, Juie previously served at Abacus Data Systems (now Caret Legal) where she played a pivotal role in providing cutting-edge technology platforms and services to legal professionals nationwide.

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Content published on the U.S. Legal Support blog is reviewed by professionals in the legal and litigation support services field to help ensure accurate information. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice for attorneys or clients.