As we continue our series of interviewing process servers who work with ABC Legal, we meet Nina Scott, a multi-tasking, multi-talented grandmother of six. Nina has been a process server in Mobile County, Alabama, for a little over two years.
She’s a widow, the mother of two children, a son and daughter, and has 6 grandchildren from the ages of 9 to 23. Nina and her late husband were entertainers for 25 years at local venues and owned a local nightclub. In addition to a career as an entertainer, Nina has 30 years of experience in office administration. Nina keeps busy! While she’s currently working as a process server, she’s also taking online classes for medical billing and coding and works full-time as an office manager at a local landscape company. Nina reveals to us how to do this job with compassion, while being successful and professional.
Process Server with ABC Legal Services, Nina Scott
What does a typical serve look like?
Nina: A typical serve is simply going to the location, taking pictures of the house and vehicles that are present, walking up to the door with the documents, knocking and ringing the doorbell. If someone answers, you determine if that person is the one you are looking for, or if they reside at the location. Typically you either serve the defendant or substitute serve, make sure to get the name of the person that you leave the documents with, document the serve on the mobile app and go on to the next location.
Do you have indicators when it might be a more difficult serve and how does this change your process?
Nina: Some places I go to have cobwebs at the front door or things piled in front of the door, or a tag I previously left still there, so you know the front door is not used, which makes it harder to serve because we are only supposed to use the front door. Talking to neighbors to find out if they know when the subject may be at home sometimes helps.
How do you ensure your own safety as a routine practice?
Nina: I am very aware of my surroundings at all times, never leaving my vehicle unlocked or facing a dead end street. If I am in an area that is known to be more unsafe than others, I always let someone know where I am.
How are you managing during the pandemic? What has been the most significant change?
Nina: Social distancing has been the biggest challenge. People are afraid to open their doors to strangers and reluctant to come out and pick up the papers while you are there. The temporary shutdown during the pandemic took a little getting used to since I was home every night and weekends, but I did enjoy the time off and was very happy to see the changes in the ABC Legal Mobile App when we were able to start serving again. Now that the courts are open and back in full swing I’m busier than ever.
Can you tell our readers how you handle emergencies, such as hurricane season in Alabama?
Nina: 2020 has been a very active hurricane season. Last month Hurricane Sally made landfall here in our area and a couple of days ago we were in the cone for Hurricane Delta. However, Hurricane Delta has shifted and is going to Louisiana. After Hurricane Sally I was concerned about serving papers to someone that may have suffered a loss, so I reached out to partner support at ABC Legal to get some advice on what to do and they told me how to best handle those types of situations.
As technology plays more of a role, how has this impacted your job as a process server?
Nina: As a process server, technology makes the job easier. The new features of the ABC Mobile App are awesome. My favorite feature is the routing, it makes planning your day so much easier by being able to choose the ones you want that day. The sorting feature makes my job much easier. For instance, if I have 30 plus serves, I sort them by zip code and do all that area at one time. The technical upgrades to the app have also made documenting and completing the return of service more efficient and easier.
How has the industry as a whole evolved since you started?
Nina: I started in July of 2018 and I really haven’t seen too many changes in the way process service is done. I see on my cover sheet all the time that drop service is not allowed so I assume it used to be allowed but not since I have been serving.
What is the most important thing for someone just starting out as a process server to know?
Nina: ALWAYS look through the papers after you print them and read your instructions. If you find a mistake, contact process server help immediately. Take your time and document everything. If you are not sure of something, ask, never assume. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see a lot of work at first, believe me--it will come.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Nina: One of my favorite parts of the job is the elderly. They are also so sweet and helpful even though they or a family member are being served. Even if it holds me up, they always want to talk. I guess they are lonely and are grateful to have someone to talk to. It always gives me a good feeling to know that maybe just listening to them for a few minutes may have made their day better.
Nina: I would have to say my least favorite, as a female process server, is going to areas that are known to, let’s say...not be the best areas to be in after dark.
Hardest lesson learned?
Nina: Working a full time job and process serving, I would have to say, planning your family time around work has been the hardest. You have to leave early and stay out late to get the job done right.
Any tips for finding success as a process server, as well as a few do’s and don'ts?
Nina: DO be professional, courteous and respectful. Treat people as you want to be treated. I find that a smile goes a long way and I always address someone as Sir or Ma’am. Do call the phone numbers given to you, as some people are willing to make appointments with you to get the papers which saves time on how many times you have to go to that address. Every process server has their own system, find one that works for you that makes your job easier. I file all my serves by zip codes and serve those areas all at one time, therefore, I am not running from one side of town to the other. But what works for me, may not work for you. Do keep up with your diligence, which is a lot easier now with the updated ABC Legal Mobile App.
Don’t be rude or unprofessional in any manner. Don’t enter a gate that has a no trespassing sign. Don’t be dishonest with your documentation and don’t offer any legal advice.
I think the first thing in finding success at being a process server is that you like the work. Personally, I love it. Sure, there’s going to be things you don’t like, but that’s in every walk of life. Schedule your time wisely, always knock loud because the person inside may not be able to hear and the doorbell may not work. Check with the neighbors and property managers. Some apartment managers will give you the information that you are looking for and others will not because of their policies. Tag a door, if allowed, leaving a phone number that they can reach you at, you would be surprised at how many people call you.
Any stories or situations you tell people when they ask you, “so tell me the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?”
Nina: I really have not had anything crazy happen at any serve I have been on. You run into the occasional “don’t come back on my property”, so just document it and move one.
I did go to one house and the lady that opened the door was probably in her late 70’s or early 80’s and after we determined that this serve was not for her she started telling me about her girlfriends and how they go fishing a couple time a month and where they went fishing and asked me to join them. Not crazy, but very sweet.
Are there any regulations as far as license and registration you must follow as a process server in Alabama?
Nina: There are no licensing or registration requirements to become a process server in Alabama.
Nina shows us how the tried and true method of being respectful and honest are a continued thread in all the ABC Legal process servers we’ve interviewed. She also shows us that in the full picture of our life we never know where we will end up. And as times change, we can adapt and learn, growing into new careers that continue to enrich our lives. Nina is without a doubt a role model. She reminds us that being kind and friendly can go a long way, and intelligence and preparation are key to her success in life, both personally and professionally.
About ABC Legal Services
ABC Legal is the nation’s leading service of process 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.
Written byHeather Thomas