Mary Barton, 60, lives and serves process in Greenville, South Carolina. A widow of four years — Mary is originally from Gouverneur, NY. She has one daughter and two granddaughters, 9 and 10, who she loves spending time with.
“It’s always an adventure with them,” she says.
When she’s not spending time with her granddaughters, Mary likes to crochet and do puzzles. She also donates to local charities, and recently took time out of her busy schedule to tell us more about her life and career as an ABC Legal process server.
Who inspires you? My granddaughters. I want them to have the best experiences, and I try to lead by example.
Tell us something about you that not many people know: Nothing. I’m an open book.
What area do you serve? I serve the middle to western section of up-state South Carolina.
How long have you been a process server? 12 years
How long have you been with ABC Legal? 5 years
How many hours per week do you serve process? About 25 hours
How did you get your start? I had a friend who encouraged me to do this with her years ago, and now it’s my retirement work. Twelve years ago, we were both single moms working full-time and needing extra income, so we got in on the ground floor with a friend of hers who owned a serving company. After the first two or three serves we thought, this isn’t too hard. Then after a while we started our own little company — Riley’s Process Service named after my granddaughter. My partner took one part of the state, and I took the other. Now my daughter and ex-husband work for ABC Legal.
What does a typical serve look like? The day before, I print and package the serve, then I plan my route for efficiency. I serve the entire upper half of the state — 20 some area codes — so planning ahead is important. The next day, I drive up and take the picture first. I carry a stun gun for dogs. There’s usually a story to tell about a place if you pay attention and trust your gut. A lot of people are having financial troubles that have never had trouble before. Sometimes you need to listen and be Dear Abby. A lot of people are embarrassed. You’ve got to understand because one day I might be in that situation. People will get angry then apologize. Don’t take it personally. Stay compassionate and respectful and people will usually respond positively.
Did you engage in training with ABC Legal? Process server orientation via video training.
What’s your favorite part of the job? Meeting different people and seeing parts of the state I would have never seen otherwise.
What’s your least favorite part of the job? Dogs and mean people.
What are some tips for people just getting started as a process server? Do your research on serving requirements and don’t take people’s reactions personal. See what your state requires for training and insurance. Make sure you look into the software and printer you need. Know the rules of your state. Treat the receptionists and paralegals right and they’ll treat you right.
Most important thing to remember? Keep your cool and be compassionate. And respect them.
Do you provide other services besides process serving such as notary, investigations, etc.? I am a notary.
How do you keep yourself safe? Observe your surroundings and never turn your back on or take your eyes off an angry defendant.
Do you have indicators when it might be a more difficult serve and how does this change your process? You need to listen to your instincts and observe your surroundings.
Do you face natural disasters? If so, how does it affect process serving? We get a lot of flooding, and sometimes can’t serve due to roads being washed out.
How are you managing during the pandemic? How has it changed process serving? I am social distancing and following the serving procedures. People are more cautious of opening their doors.
How has technology, such as the ABC Legal process server app, impacted your job as a process server? It’s helped a lot! It’s great to have so much information to go on.
Do you use any other technology? GPS
How has the industry changed since you started? More technology and less hand-written paperwork.
Any lessons learned as a process server? 1. People live difficult lives. 2. GPS can be wrong. 3. Attorneys don’t want to hear excuses or why you can’t. 4. Everyone is different, and it’s important to see how they’re going to come across to know how to deal with them.
Any good serving stories? One time we caught a guy just getting out of the shower. When he opened the door, he was standing behind it with a towel covering his front, but didn’t seem to realize there was a mirror right behind him and we could see everything.
About ABC Legal
With more than 2,000 process servers across the U.S. and 75 countries, ABC Legal is the nation’s leading service of process and court filing provider, as well as the Acting Central Authority to the U.S. Department of Justice. Our digital approach saves valuable time and resources, and our cloud-based solutions are compatible for use on desktop, browser, and smartphones. Docketly—an ABC Legal subsidiary—provides appearance counsel on a digital, custom-built platform that smoothly integrates with our applications and services. Learn more at www.abclegal.com.