Profile of a South Carolina Process Server: Russell Yocum
Russ Yocum, 40, is a former Coast Guard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Russ was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, and spent two years serving on a ship in Seattle before moving to South Carolina and starting his family, which he adores. He lives with his wife and four children, three boys and a girl, and they spend almost every weekend boating off the beautiful shores of the Grand Strand area of Myrtle Beach — an arc of beach land on the Atlantic Ocean that extends more than 60 miles from Little River to Winyah Bay.
“We are a boating family,” said Russ. “It’s what we do—wonderful chaos with lots of adventure.”
He’s also passionate about being a good husband and father.
“I love being a dad, he said. “I take a lot of pride in setting a good example.”
Russ recently took time out of his busy schedule to tell us more about his life and career as an ABC Legal process server.
Who inspires you? My family. Watching my sons and daughter shape up and grow. They inspire me to be a better person.
Tell us something about you that not many people know: I’m half Puerto Rican on my mom’s side.
What are your hobbies? I’m a huge music and movie guy. Goonies plays on our TV once or twice a month, and we have a theater room where we all watch movies together on a 120-inch screen.
How do you give back to your community? My wife and I have been donating to St. Jude’s for years.
How long have you been a process server? Eight or nine years; all with ABC Legal.
What’s the size of the area you serve? Five zip codes: 29576, 29440, 29575, 29577 and 29526.
How many hours a week do you work as a process server? I average about 32 to 40 hours a week although some weeks are busier than others. Also we get a lot of tourist traffic during the summer which can extend that time by quite a bit.
How did you get your start? A former co-worker mentioned that he was starting to serve process, so I rode with him to check it out. Then he reached out to the company to see if they needed more process servers and they said yes, so I did a few more ride-alongs, my friend showed me the app, and I got started during the foreclosure crisis when there was a lot of work.
Are there any legal requirements to work as a process server in your state? No
What sort of training have you received from ABC Legal? When I first started it was mainly just ride-alongs with other servers. Now I take advantage of the online training modules ABC legal offers. They’re great refreshers. I also learned a lot on the job.
What’s your favorite part of the job? The freedom. I love being able to ride in my car for seven to eight hours a day, choosing my path. This is my career. I really do enjoy my job.
What’s your least favorite part of the job? I really dislike unrestrained dogs. I’ve been threatened by people and that’s ok, but unrestrained dogs are a real problem. Imagine being three miles down a dirt road, and approaching an isolated trailer with no windows, when all of a sudden a big dog comes running and barking from the back to the front. I don’t care for the element of surprise.
What are some tips for people just getting started as a process server? The most important thing is to be well-dressed and professional at all times. People respond very differently depending on how you’re dressed.
What does a typical serve look like? The first thing I do is always visit the location during the day first so I’m familiar with the area. When I pull up, I’m always very careful not to block the driveway, park on the grass, or step on the flowers. I offer a proper good morning, afternoon or evening, and immediately identify myself as a process server. I let them know I have a delivery, and if they ask what it’s about I tell them it’s a “legal matter” but I don’t have the specifics. I always return to my vehicle the same way I came in, being very respectful of the property. Also, when I take photos, I make sure the recipient is not in them. Having had a previous career in loss prevention, and law enforcement as a boarding team member in the Coast Guard, I tend to handle confrontation well, so that’s not a problem. I’m always very courteous and polite even when the recipient is unhappy.
How do you keep yourself safe? I always make my first serve on a case during the daytime. I want to see the area clearly and familiarize myself with the surroundings, and searching around at night tends to make the neighbors uncomfortable. I also always park facing out in case a quick exit is warranted. Knowing your area is very important.
Is there any technology you find helpful? I’m not very tech savvy, but the ABC Legal app is very easy to use. I also use GPS.
How has the pandemic changed process serving? Since I’m wearing a mask now, people can only see my eyes instead of my entire face so to help put them at ease, I dress even more professionally than usual and never wear a hat since that covers up too much of the face. I never want to look intimidating. Also, social distancing serving can be difficult since people always seem to want to close that six-foot gap for some reason.
Are there ways to tell if a serve may be more difficult than usual, and how does this change your process? If I’ve already served that person, or someone else at the same address, then they’re usually ready for me and already grumpy, but that’s not something I can change so I just stay courteous and professional and make the best of it.
Do you face natural disasters? If so, how does it affect the job? Yes, hurricanes are common here. This past season wasn’t bad, but Hurricane Matthew was a game changer back in 2016. All inland areas flooded — the highest I’ve ever seen it. In these cases, it’s important to take good notes and pictures and show the flooded areas that you’re unable to enter.
How has the industry changed since you started? Going from foreclosure to debt collection has been huge with a different type of experience and recipient. Foreclosures usually involve a husband and wife at home either in the morning or at night, so they’re easy to locate. There were also a lot of homeowner’s associations that were open 9 to 5, so very cut and dry. Now about 98% of my work is around debt collection, and the recipients tend to be younger and more transient, living in apartment buildings or with addresses that are years out of date. I spend a lot more money on ink and gas now because the filings tend to be longer and people are harder to find.
Any lessons learned as a process server? Always knock firmly on the front door and never on windows or around the side or back of a home which tends to frighten people.
Any fun serving stories? One very nice lady invited me to move in after I’d served her seven or eight times. I politely declined.
About ABC Legal
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.