Lawsuits and legal action are a fact of life for businesses and organizations, which means having to deal with service of process.
What is service of process?
But, what exactly is service of process (SOP)? In a strict legal definition, service of process is the notice to a party of the commencement of legal action. In a more practical sense, this tends to also include things like wage garnishments, subpoenas, bankruptcies, foreclosure filings, and any number of other documents that get handled through the court system or similar agencies in various jurisdictions.
This can be a lot to manage, especially for growing organizations looking to scale their tools and methods for handling SOP. Oftentimes, organizations use registered agents to help manage this, but as companies grow, so do their SOP needs, which can create myriad challenges.
SOP business challenges
The complex nature of SOP often presents a number of challenges for businesses. We’ve identified some of the problems that organizations typically face when dealing with managing SOP and litigation, as well as some potential solutions to keep in mind.
Large companies are constantly undergoing change and growth. This could mean that you’re acquiring or forming companies. Alternatively, maybe you’ve gone through a merger. Whatever the reason for these organization changes, it is important to understand that the more entities you have and the more jurisdictions where you’re registered will create a larger footprint. This creates a greater opportunity to receive SOP and litigation and presents a challenge from a SOP standpoint.
Solution: Stay on top of changes with a clear and defined change management process to alleviate some of the challenges associated with this pain point.
Something else that can be challenging for an organization is manual processes. When we speak to prospective clients, we often hear that they are handling SOP on paper, which means at the outset, they aren’t getting the documents directly to the people that handle them. As a result, there’s a lot of manual distribution slowing down the response time for litigation.
Solution: Use an electronic management platform to help manage and automate the process.
Increased costs and budget scrutiny
Another problem legal departments face is that the department is seen as a cost center at times, meaning there’s scrutiny around budgets and expenses. If you have a manual, perhaps even paper-intensive process, that can exacerbate the problem and increase costs.
Solution: Add tools and technologies into the equation to create efficiencies and save money.
Too much noise to focus on what’s really important
Another thing that we hear from a lot of companies is that there’s so much going on, it’s hard to focus on what’s important.
This could manifest in a lot of different ways and vary between organizations. For example, if a department receives a lot of garnishments, but they’re not the department responsible for handling the garnishments for the organization, this can clog up workflow and prevent them from handling their true tasks. As a result, this can create some challenges with the way that some people receive SOP.
Solution: Make sure that requests are being routed to the proper departments to prevent clogging up the workflow.
No single source of truth or system of record
Many organizations have multiple registered agents, which can create challenges when SOP comes from different places and there’s no central repository to refer to for all litigation that’s facing your organization.
Solution: Create a centralized repository that can serve as a single source of truth. Better yet, use one company as your registered agent to consolidate this process.
Things are falling through the cracks
Last but not least, a common challenge is that things are just simply falling through the cracks. This may be a symptom of what was mentioned above, because if you don’t have a single source of truth to manage your SOP and litigation, what kind of auditing can you do? Other questions that may help determine if things are falling through the cracks are:
- What kind of alerts for SOP do you have?
- Do you know the status of each SOP document?
- If you’re not the person responsible, where’s that document in its SOP life cycle?
Solution: Get connected to a centralized hub where you can manage and oversee all service of process inquires at each stage of the life cycle. CSC’s SOP ManagerSM offers this and more; it’s a great option for companies looking to centralize their SOP.
Most organizations won’t find that they’re suffering from all of these challenges at once, but at various times, these issues come to the surface. CSC can assist with managing and streamlining your SOP. Learn more about all of our Registered Agent services here.
Want to learn more about SOP or registered agents in general? Sign up for our upcoming webinar on Service of Process Health Check: 7 Key Questions on July 2, 2019 at 11 AM and 2 PM. See all of our upcoming webinars here.