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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will Physical Service of Subpoena’s on AT&T Become a Thing of the Past?

If AT&T has its way the answer is YES. As you can imagine AT&T and its family of companies receive Subpoena’s many times every day. In an effort to manage the intake and routing of records requests AT&T recently launched an online application that allows and encourages the delivery of Subpoena’s for records electronically.

The efficiencies they gain as a result of in-taking Subpoena’s through the electronic portal are enormous. The system is user-friendly and within a few short minutes AT&T gathers all the data necessary to quickly and easily process the request for their customer’s records. The user interface requires the initiator to provide all the court and case data necessary to satisfy their legal requirements. Once the initiator completes a few screens they are given a confirmation and instructions to fax the Subpoena to their intake center.

This development is nothing new; as a matter of fact one might argue that it is part of a global trend that embraces the use of technology in all aspects of the legal profession. In 2009, I wrote an article entitled
Is Personal Service of Civil Subpoenas Coming to an End? This article explores this trend and how it might impact the process serving industry. In that article I offered my thoughts and suggestions on what the industry could do to address this challenge. In my opinion most process servers and process server associations are failing to acknowledge that the future of the process serving process is going to change dramatically.

I contend that the AT&T development is the tip of the iceberg. Other companies like them are already embracing the concept of establishing a secure online channel for the intake of service of process. It may come to pass that the customers (law firms) of process servers will in time find out that they no longer need a process server for the timely, reliable and trusted delivery of their legal documents.

If you continue to think nostalgically about the process serving industry and how it used to be, then you are at the train station but not on the train. The emergence of web-based technologies and systems has and will continue to forever change the landscape of not just the process serving industry but virtually every business community. Process servers are not immune to this massive shift and will not remain relevant in the long term unless they find a way to ensure that they retain a role in the digital environment.

Process servers need to rethink their role and work with one another as a team to address this challenge before it is too late.