The Value of Process Services for Law Firms
For many attorneys and law firms, reliable process service can make the difference when it comes to effective litigation. But what makes for exceptional process service, and how can it add value to the operation of a law firm?
Deborah Schuff, President of JUNES Legal, offers insights gleaned from her professional career and multiple decades of effective operation.
In brief, what does ‘process service’ entail?
Wikipedia describes process service as: “The procedure by which a party to a lawsuit gives an appropriate notice of initial legal action to another party (such as a defendant), court, or administrative body in an effort to exercise jurisdiction over that person so as to force that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body, or other tribunal. Notice is furnished by delivering a set of court documents (called “process”) to the person to be served.”
JUNES describes process service as a very exciting niche business that we have mastered in our 50 years of service.
How can law firms benefit from making use of these services? What do they enable firms to do that they cannot manage on their own?
Attorney services have been around for decades. It is common practice for attorneys to engage process servers, couriers, court reporters, document retrieval services and many other vendors to assist their clients. JUNES has been very successful in being a ‘one-stop shop’ for our clients.
What are the legal considerations involved in serving legal documents as part of a support service?
JUNES serves legal documents from all over the country and we always adhere to each state’s very specific rules for process service. In Nevada, process service is governed by the NRS (Nevada Revised Statute) and we take no liberties in following those very clear rules.
Another critical part of process service is the process servers’ own integrity. We are only as good as the people we hire and JUNES only hires licensed process servers who have completed a background check with the Nevada Private Investigators Licensing Board. If we say we served someone, then you can be guaranteed that we served them and our signed affidavit is as good as gold. We proudly sign all affidavits under penalty of perjury and will happily send any server to court to testify that service was properly effectuated. And this happens! Many of our process servers have been with JUNES for 10 or more years and we are proud to have them.
We are only as good as the people we hire.
What are a process server’s necessary skills?
Tenacity, like a dog with a bone. Self-motivation to get up and get the job done. Understanding that each case is important to every plaintiff and their attorney.
How can a good process server be used to improve a law firm’s efficiency and cashflow?
We are all watching the bottom line these days. One of the things JUNES prides itself on is not ‘nickel-and-diming’ law firms. Our office staff try to identify good addresses for service before we even send the documents out with the server. Getting the defendant served correctly the first time saves the client money. There is no need to attempt multiple addresses if we do not have to. This also allows the attorney to proceed quickly with the next steps required in the litigation process.
JUNES holds our process servers accountable for returning all work in a timely manner. Time is always of the essence.
Beyond process services, what other third-party support services can help a law firm’s operations?
This is a great question. Since 1973, JUNES has offered many legal support services to clients including court filings, messenger and mobile notary services, copying of records, binder and document prep for courtroom proceedings, nationwide skip tracing and asset searches.
Another recently added service includes evictions. The law recently changed in Nevada, in which eviction notices must be served or posted by a licensed server, constable, or agent of attorney. We assist many property management companies and law firms in the state with their monthly evictions. Even the private sector uses JUNES to assist with evictions.
How have you seen the field of legal support services change and grow during your career?
When I started JUNES in 1973 in downtown San Diego, I did what we called a ‘walking route’. I had about 25 clients downtown and I would walk to all of their offices, pick up their documents and take them to the appropriate government buildings. Everything was handwritten. Everything. There was no email or cell phones or even fax machines or computers. We finally got pagers, facsimile machines using thermo paper and typewriters with carbon paper. Wow, have the times changed!
That is so very true of the legal profession. Service rules and legal requirements are always changing. One thing I have always said is that “nothing stays the same – however, I am consistent”. Taking a step back, looking at how the industry has changed, I ask the question: what would I have done differently? I was young, in my first year in college at 19 and learning the importance of that firm handshake, eye contact and demonstrating good character. It all came with life experiences. I had to learn on the fly, but 50 years later, I think I got it right.
About Deborah Schuff
With your firm’s 50th anniversary this year, can you tell us a little about your career journey so far?
In a profession that was historically dominated by men, I started serving legal documents for my dad who was an attorney in La Mesa, California at the age of 18. I liked what I was doing and started to assist my dad with other things he needed done, which included court filings. Before we knew it, I had 70 clients in 1973.
Today, women make up a significant portion of legal process servers, taking their place among the most successful and respected companies in the country. I am proud to be one of them. Every day we make conscious decisions to expand our profession; continued growth is an important step. It is also important that we surround ourselves with winners who appreciate our achievements and who can bring skills to our company so that we may offer the best of the best customer service and receive satisfaction when a job is well done. We are flexible and able to offer solutions for difficult serves. We like the hard-to-get ones!
What are your proudest achievements to date?
I have always known who I am. I did not change when I saw others running their companies differently. Challenge seems to be something I do not mind leaning into. Compliments were few and far between, but I persevered. In 1976 I was interviewed by a local television station, pregnant with my first daughter, running the office, and doing a ‘walking route’ in downtown San Diego. This consisted of pickups and deliveries from law firms, going to court and back twice daily for 25 clients. I planned on bringing her to work with me, which I did, along with two other children over the next 10 years. To this day, I allow employees to bring their babies to work.
I am a strong believer that motherhood and careers can successfully co-exist . I take great pride and satisfaction in providing a positive workplace environment, boosting company morale and fostering individual growth. I have had many employees who came to me not knowing anything about the legal industry and then went on to have successful careers at the courts or as paralegals. I hate to see the good ones go, but proud to have helped them along their journey. I often have past employees reach out to me to say hi, still considering me “family” many years later. It is such a good feeling.
I have always known who I am. I did not change when I saw others running their companies differently.
Growing up with a dad as an attorney in a solo practice and my mom in nursing, certain skills were passed down to me as someone who always cares for others, listens to their needs and who tries to have an answer. If I did not know how to solve the problem, I was taught to find a way. You treat people right, with respect and understanding, and you will be rewarded. Having procedures in place and being willing to adopt new ones is the key to keeping a tight ship afloat.
Can you share anything about your plans for the future of Junes Legal?
Business changed dramatically after COVID-19, and in most cases, the changes are well received. Everyone is excited and maybe a bit anxious to see where this new era takes us. Most practices are becoming more digital; courthouse hours of operations are changing; electronic filing and department drop-offs look different.
JUNES is staying on top of these changes, and it is our goal to be part of this evolving legal industry. At JUNES we listen to our clients’ ever-changing needs. We always tailor our services around their needs by listening and adapting. I enjoy meeting my clients one-on-one and hearing what they need and making sure they know their needs are my number one priority. I am a hands-on owner and am always available. Everyone makes promises. I like results and a strong handshake, and I follow through on my promises.
In this profession, the stress can get the best of you with due-right-now timelines and crazy demands, but at JUNES no one needs to worry if the job is being handled. We get it done. I am 70 years old and people always ask when I will retire – and if will I retire. This business keeps the blood flowing. I am JUNES and JUNES is me; so I guess the answer is simply: no. I am fortunate to have my oldest daughter, Rebecca, assisting in the day-to-day operations. Her depth of knowledge and insight, her ability and her communication skills are very strong. She is more than capable of managing the ever-changing industry.
My other two children, although doing their own thing now, also spent years with JUNES and helped to set up procedures still used today. My son developed our software that clients and staff use today, and my youngest daughter developed the court and runner system, offering her very personal touch to clients’ needs. It truly is a family business. I even have second generations working at JUNES – grown kids of prior employees starting at the office!
Whether we like it or not, we are being judged and compared to our competitors. Having discipline to work efficiently, effectively and with measurable results will ensure we stand out and get noticed – and in a good way! There is nothing more impressive than a company you can count on to get the job done. Mastering good work ethics and exceeding expectations is the accountability that will keep Junes going for another 50 years. With a staff of over 32, many with over 10 years’ experience at JUNES, we offer a unique field of expertise. Being successful in business absolutely has challenges. Understanding there is no obstacle to stand in our way, we choose to conquer every request from every client.
Deborah Schuff, President
630 South, 10th Street, Suite #B, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA
Tel: +1 702-579-6300
Fax: +1 702-259-6249
Deborah Schuff is the founder and President of JUNES Legal, which she moved from San Diego to Las Vegas in 2005 after more than 30 years of successful practice. Committed to client satisfaction above all else, Deborah continues to run the firm as a family-owned and operated business, with multiple generations of expertise tied up in its offering.
JUNES Legal is a Las Vegas-based, which was launched by Deborah Schuff in 1973 as a part-time messenger with just 70 clients. Today, with a client base of more than 3,000 in the US, JUNES boasts a pool of experienced staff capable of providing a range of aggressive, high-quality litigation support services to its clients.