A process server is a person who has the sometimes thankless task of delivering subpoenas and other important documents on behalf of a lawyer to people who are being sued. The process server's job is to make sure these people physically receive their subpoenas, which contain important information about the lawsuit including when and where they are required to show up for court. Becoming a process server in New Jersey can be a great way to make money.
Make contact with a law firm. Call around to various law firms and ask if they are in need of a process server. A standard law firm will have dozens of important papers needing to be served at any given time, and it will always be on the look out for new, reliable people to get the job done. They may ask you to provide a resume or come in for an interview before trusting you with such an important task, but doing well can lead to more work with the same firm. Large cities in New Jersey like Newark and Bayonne will have over a hundred law firms listed in the local phone book. Even smaller cities like Eatontown will have dozens of law firms that are always in need of process servers.
Don't forget to ask around too. If you know anybody that works for a law firm, use that person as a contact and get them to ask their employer if they need any new process servers. Most process servers get their start because they have pre-existing contacts that they can use as references.
Make sure you have a reliable car. Process serving requires a lot of driving around to various locations which will be done using your own vehicle. Not only will a law firm not provide you with any kind of company car, but many do not reimburse their process servers for gas. If you don't have a reliable car of your own, the job is literally impossible.
Know what to charge. Process servers generally are able to charge what they'd like, based on the distance traveled and the difficulty of locating a person that needs to be served. Overcharging a law firm can be a fast way to make sure that a law firm never uses you again.
Generally if a person is in the same city where you live, you can charge between $15 and $20, as of 2009. The farther away you must drive and the harder it is to locate a person, the price increases.
Be prepared to wait. Often all a process server has to go on is an address where to find a person. This means that they don't have information like whether or not a person works, if they're on vacation or if they even live there anymore. This can require you to wait long periods of time to see if a person comes back to that address. It is important to note that New Jersey law prohibits a process server from leaving service documents in someone's mailbox. They must be physically handed to the individual named in the documents, or someone who has confirmed that they live at the same address who is over the age of eighteen.
Learn how long you have to serve someone. If a process server does not deliver documents to someone by a certain date, the documents must be re-filed with the New Jersey court system, which is a process that can be irritating for both the process server and the law firm. From the date service documents are issued, New Jersey District Court dictates you have 60 days to serve someone, while New Jersey Circuit Court dictates that you have 30 days. Which court your documents are being processed through will be listed on the top of the service documents themselves.
Tips & Warnings
- Process servers are considered "independent contractors" in New Jersey and are not actual employees of a law firm. A law firm may have a few process servers that they employ regularly, but they will always have documents that need to be served. Calling around to a variety of law firms and inquiring about employment can be a good way to make sure you're always working.
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