In our interview series of learning more about process servers for ABC Legal, I had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ Diane Giddings, a process server who lives in Bishopville, South Carolina where she runs her own business, Central Carolina PPS. Diane got her start as a private investigator after attending college for Criminal Justice, spending the last 11 years as an entrepreneurial process server specializing in service of process, court filing, skip tracing and notary public.
Diane and her husband have four children, two of which are in college. They love a good bonfire and spending time outdoors hunting and fishing. Earning stellar respect from her peers as an outstanding process server, she offers up an honest perspective on balancing family life as a wife, mother and notable entrepreneur in this industry.
How long have you been a process server, and how did you get your start?
Diane: I have been a process server for eleven years, and worked for another company for a few years before starting out on my own.
I was attending college classes for criminal justice, and had to do an internship. I waited too long to sign up at the sheriff’s department so my teacher said I would have to find someone in the legal field who would take me on as an intern. I reached out to a private investigation firm. Christopher Hilditch took the call and brought me on. His office handled private investigations and process serving. The company offered me a job when I finished my internship. I worked for a few years as a private investigator (PI) and process server for them. The owners had some new opportunities come up and made the decision to close the business. Chris encouraged me to keep going with it, and I did. They were wonderful mentors who taught me a lot. The rest they say, is history.
Pros and cons of this process serving as a career?
- The pros: This job allows me to have a flexible schedule. When raising a family that is a huge blessing. This job has allowed me to network and meet some amazing people all over the country. It’s almost like a big family. This line of work does pay well and you can be your own boss. I like being out in the world, not in an office.
- The cons: There is of course some danger associated with this job, and plenty of opportunity for negativity. I've been cussed out or talked poorly to. Let’s face it, no one is happy to see me at their door. The key is to have positives in your life to balance all that out. Also, to have compassion, as the people we serve are human beings. They are someone’s sister, brother, father or mother. Never take it personal.
Misconceptions about this job from the female perspective?
Diane: I would say one of the biggest misconceptions is that process servers don’t care about people. We can’t have heart and serve ‘good people’ papers. The truth is the process server’s job is to simply deliver the legal documents, we don’t have a ‘dog in the fight’. We are not on any particular ‘side’. Fortunately, we live in a country where we’re all given the right to answer, defend and have full legal representation. Process servers simply assist in an individual's right to be notified of a court proceedings against them.
Personally, I don’t run into many challenges in this field as a woman. Thankfully, my clients respect the work I do regardless of what gender I am. However, I do think people are more likely to open the door for a woman, especially the elderly, older population. A misconception I sometimes hear is that working for big process serving companies is a mistake. The truth is it’s a very good way to get your start. It’s possible to serve for large companies such as ABC Legal and run your business with local clients. I cover six counties for ABC Legal and have seen our clientele grow 30% this year.
How do you keep yourself safe?
Diane: Safety is very important. In this day and age I think women and men are in equal danger in this job. The key is to put into place safety plans that you follow. Never let your guard down or get comfortable enough to forget. My safety plan takes place as soon as I pull into a house. I am looking over my surroundings for dogs, anyone outside and one of the most important things--my exit! Park your vehicle as close as you can to the front door. I always know how I’m getting out of the driveway or yard before I get out of my vehicle. Keep your phone on you. Be alert and aware.
Advice for those looking to get into this career? What tips do you offer women who’ve thought of this job but aren’t sure?
Diane: My advice would be to evaluate your life and see if it fits well with where you’re currently at. This job takes dedication, time and effort. Your clients must see that in you before word of mouth starts. Reach out to an experienced process server. I have wonderful mentors. I can pick up the phone and call them, and know that I’m getting solid helpful advice. This industry is filled with passionate process servers who have valuable experience and knowledge and want to see you succeed. To be successful in this industry you must meet deadlines, be efficient and put in the time. If you want to have a successful process serving company, you have to put in the late hours. You will miss out on things. But, if you put in hard work and time, clients will respect and keep using you to serve.
On motherhood and process serving
Diane: Being a process server gives me the flexibility to be there when my children need me. I'm able to pick them up from school. I'm able to be at the school for events in the middle of the day. I'm able to pick up a sick child from school. Servers definitely have more flexibility, and I am able to be flexible with my schedule. That's a huge benefit for a wife and mother of four.
How do you see this job evolving as technology plays more of a role in what you do?
Diane: It has started to evolve for sure--I used to physically pick up documents. Before, 30% of my day was spent running papers here or there, picking them up and filing them. Now, most everything is e-file and e-mail. There has been talk of possible service via social media and email, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. There is solid proof in serving an individual and knowing person to person who's received documents.
Our company is preparing and attending trainings every year to keep up with changing technology in this industry. Technology has been good for the industry, such as e-filings and GPS locked locations, to name a few.
How are you managing differently during the pandemic?
Diane: This pandemic has been tough. It has definitely added to the danger. I think having a solid plan in place and following it routinely is important. We don’t want to bring anything home or give anything to anyone else. The safety procedures ABC Legal currently have in place are helpful and practical. I think these safety procedures are here to stay for a while. It’s just the reality of where we are now, and responsible process servers understand this by always putting safety first.
How has this industry changed from the perspective of a process server since you began your career?
Diane: I’ve been a process server for eleven years now and love it! To be honest the goal and job of a process server hasn’t changed too much. We play an important role in ensuring due process and that won’t ever change. While the current pandemic has changed how we do the job somewhat, technology has evolved and made our job more efficient and safe. But at the end of the day the goal of the industry remains the same.
The exact number of female process servers is not widely published, but in an industry that’s historically seen as male dominated, more women like Diane Giddings are paving their own path to success and becoming successful entrepreneurs in the process service industry. Increasingly, as the gig economy continues to transform the workforce with more lucrative opportunities, women are finding new ways to have more adaptable, satisfying careers such as process serving.
To learn more about joining the ranks as a process server with ABC Legal, please visit our process server resource page here.
About ABC Legal Services
ABC Legal is the nation’s leading process of service and court filing company and is the official process server to the U.S. Department of Justice. Docketly is a subsidiary of ABC Legal providing appearance counsel on a digital, custom built platform that smoothly integrates with our applications and services. ABC Legal’s applications are cloud-based and compatible for use on desktop, browser and smartphones. Our solutions and digital approach ensure process server partners, law firm customers, and their clients save valuable time and resources when serving legal notices safely and with maximum compliance, control and transparency. ABC Legal is based in Seattle, WA with more than 2,000 process servers throughout the U.S., as well as internationally in more than 75 countries. To learn more about ABC Legal, our solutions and subsidiary company Docketly, visit www.abclegal.com.