The pandemic has been tough on process servers. Socially distancing when serving process is almost impossible. It has meant the industry has shed a lot of servers and new safety precautions might be here to stay. But Steven Glenn, head of the Colorado Process Servers Association, says things will heat up fast once the pandemic ends. He has urged law firms and private investigation businesses to prepare for the coming onslaught. Simon Crittle asked him these five questions.
1) The pandemic has been ongoing for much of 2020. Has it had much of an effect on the business of serving process? Has it slowed down? Were people forced out as worked dried up?
We closed our business the day Governor Polis announce the stay at home order. We re-opened May 26, 2020. Our volume was enough we did not want to lose clients, but not enough to pay all of our employees. Most of my employees stayed on unemployment. Currently our volume is at a stable 70 percent with much of that volume coming from new clients. My thoughts are most have lost their process servers while others are receiving poor service, i.e. work ethic and communication.
2) What advice have you given to servers at a time when we’ve been in lockdowns and told not get within six feet of people?
I advocated for following the changes and for staying at home. The courts shutdown except for cases regarding physical injury, along with some criminal cases. When the stay at home order was initiated many debt collectors pushed their servers out to effect service of process, because they knew the people would be home. Most served with no personal protect equipment, because it was not available, because the priority was for first responders to receive all personal protective equipment (PPE.) I, through our association held webinars, initial for our members, then hosting as close to 1,000 attendees, where we discussed being exempt to work, yet there was no exemption for us to pass on or contract the virus. Stimulus. Payroll protection. SBA loan forgiveness. EDIL loans. Personal finances. Protecting our businesses, our staff and servers. Social distancing. Hand sanitisers in the field and in the office.
3) When the pandemic first broke-out some process servers were cautious about serving people, particularly older folks. Is serving people still a concern and how are servers approaching the job now?
When the pandemic first broke out, servers should have been cautious about serving anyone, regardless of age and for their personal safety and that of their family and friends. Most servers are observing social distancing only because PPE was unavailable. PPE is required in all office building and should be worn when attempting service at a residence.
4) Do you think the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the industry? If so, how? Or do you think it will return to normal once the virus finally goes away?
Yes, long term effects are clearly evident and what was normal will never be normal again. Even now, many servers have left the profession due to safety issues, most will never come back. Many law firms are dumping their current process servers due to lack of effort or lack of communication or both. Law firms are using this time to, for the lack of a better word, to audition new process servers. Our office will continue to require those walking into our office to subject to a temperature check. Should they fail or refuse, they will be asked to leave the office. After the temperature check they are directed to the hand sanitizer. I understand we can reduce sick days by using these tactics into the future and do not understand why we never thought of it before.
On another note, although there is a moratorium on evictions, many are not saving the money to catch up there rent payments, so unless the stimulus addresses this issue, there will be a ton of eviction in the near future. Court cases have been placed on hold and a ton of lawsuit will follow the pandemic, companies suing companies, companies suing individuals, individuals suing companies and individuals suing individuals.
The time is now for process servers/companies to prepare, upgrade, basically reassess their businesses for the onslaught of work coming our way. Many use the word pivot. We need to replace that word for preparation. Prepare to be better, more efficient in serving papers, procedures to communicate with client and staff. Those leaving this professional will regret it, as will those whom, did not take this down time to become a better version of themselves.
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