Managing the intake, distribution, and storage of legal documents can be a major challenge for corporate legal departments. Getting served just a few service of process (SOP) documents each day can add up to hundreds over the course of a year, and larger companies often receive thousands of SOP documents annually. Regardless of what kind of business your company conducts and what kind of legal action you may be served, these documents require fast action and special care in the way they are prioritized, routed, and maintained to abide by service of process legal rules.
What is Service of Process?
Service of process includes the procedure of initiating litigation and sending formal notice to another party. Known as “process,” legal documents, such as court summons, subpoenas, wage garnishment orders, state compliance notices, liens, and other notices that may come from a governmental entity or other party, are served to another party.
Why are SOP documents so important?
Service of process documents are often time-sensitive and require a response within a certain time period. Failure to take action can lead to unfavorable outcomes for your business, which can be time-consuming and very costly. This situation can be easily avoided with the right SOP management system.
What is a registered agent for service of process?
An agent for service of process, or registered agent, provides a physical, legal address to be served legal documents during normal business hours within the jurisdiction. This agent can help ensure your business maintains compliance. It is the job of the registered agent to receive and forward the SOP documents to your designated contact, usually your company’s legal team.
How can SOP ManagerSM help?
In our role as your registered agent, CSC® delivers your documents and notifications into SOP Manager seamlessly. Whether your company comprises dozens or hundreds of entities, CSC’s SOP Manager can integrate them in a single, secure environment. Additionally, SOP Manager allows you to manage the intake and distribution of your documents in one place.
All SOP are delivered electronically within 24 hours. CSC creates a “matter” for you and notifies you and your designees with an email alert that leads you directly to your matter and documents online. CSC will also associate all subsequent service with the existing matter. Plus, our solution is integrated with a single-point-of-entry with role-based permissions to also help manage your entities, matters, business licenses, and transactional results.
With SOP Manager, you’ll receive the reliability and convenience of having SOP documents scanned using Optical Character Recognition technology, enabling full-text searching of your files.
SOP Management Solution
Many corporations deal with their sizable SOP volumes with the help of some kind of electronic matter management system, but often these systems are not fully up to the task. If SOP documents aren’t handled efficiently from the minute they arrive at your registered offices, problems are only compounded down the line. Slow delivery and slapdash routing at the organizational level can lead to an erosion of your defensive advantage, disclosure of sensitive information, penalties and—in the long run—matter management systems that are cluttered with noncritical SOP data belonging to other departments.
Today, more and more corporations are searching for a smarter, more automated way of dealing with their SOP. The way forward lies with a dedicated SOP management system that allows companies to take the proper next steps with service of process. If your company receives in excess of 50 SOP documents a month, you’re probably a good candidate for such a solution, as well as a dedicated registered agent for service of process. In the following sections, we will show you how CSC SOP Manager can:
- Improve confidentiality
- Speed up the delivery of your SOP documents
- Enable automatic, rules-based document routing
- Provide a better return on investment if you currently pay fees for excess SOP
- Increase the effectiveness of your defensive actions
Handling Fluctuating SOP Volume
Much like the weather forecast, SOP volume changes daily. A calm and sunny environment one day can give way to a torrential downpour of documents the next. There is a wide range of market influences that can cause types of SOP to increase suddenly and without warning.
Additionally, product recalls, product liability, data breaches, new regulatory restrictions, and even national security concerns, can affect the number of documents legal counsel must receive and process every day. Having a solution in place to accept and manage service of process documents not only keeps a business up to date, but also eases the burden on its in-house or outside legal counsel.
Apart from the sheer number of SOP documents companies are receiving these days, many of these documents also require attentive, individual handling. For example, employers who receive wage garnishment orders are legally bound to comply with them within a tight timeframe. Failure to meet these obligations puts them at risk of fines and penalties, and even liability for an employee’s underlying debt. Subpoenas, as well, generally require quick action. Likewise, when a bank receives an order to freeze a customer account, it is expected to act on it immediately. Unfortunately, even as their SOP volumes continue to grow, many corporate legal departments are being squeezed by other forces beyond their control: understaffing, backlogs, and a decreased reliance on outside counsel.
Whatever legal document service solution you choose, it needs to be able to scale quickly and adapt to rapid increases in volumes and complexity of routing protocols.
Delivering SOP to the Right Source
The first, and arguably the most critical phase of SOP management, is getting documents to the right person or team as quickly as possible. A quality SOP management solution can make organizing SOP delivery much more accurate and easier. One of the biggest advantages offered by a centralized SOP management system is your ability to define rules—well ahead of time—that govern how SOP documents are distributed. With CSC’s SOP Manager, you can configure the system to interpret captured data in relation to each electronically scanned document, and then route the document based upon these criteria. Plus, you can set up your own distribution preferences based on any data element, including:
- The type of SOP or nature of case
- The entity served
- The relevant jurisdiction or state
Your legal department may wish to route documents to a specialized intake team or a compliance office in charge of a subset of entities, or to third parties, such as outside counsel or insurance providers. By setting up your own rules in advance, you can be confident that documents will always be sent to the right subset of individuals.
Customized routing is especially helpful in cases where your company does business in multiple jurisdictions and retains local counsel for certain types of cases. The system can flag relevant SOP and deliver them to these remote contacts without intervention or delay. Subpoenas can be sent in one direction, garnishments in another. It all takes place within the SOP Manager’s rules engine to deliver full compliance with proper service of process jurisdictions.
Confidentiality is another serious concern when it comes to SOP handling. Many legal departments are justifiably hesitant to give outside parties direct access to their matter management systems. Most, for instance, would prefer that outside counsel not see every nuance of a matter, which—depending on the nature of the case—might include directors’ salaries and other sensitive details. Custom distribution rules help ensure that documents end up in the hands of people who are cleared to see them, eliminating many disclosure concerns.
An SOP management solution can also provide continuity. When receiving new documents related to open matters, too many matter management systems create a separate matter, making it harder to manage cases and recover the right documents. CSC’s SOP Manager eliminates this problem, as subsequent documents are tied to the original SOP. You receive the original pleading or complaint, assign it to the relevant team, and whenever subsequent documents arrive—answer, motion filed, et al.—those documents are linked to the same suit and routed to the same parties.
Adopting an SOP management solution can provide incremental cost savings that really add up in the long run, depending on which provider you choose. For example, if you use a third-party matter management system that charges by volume, you may find it more economical to route high-volume but relatively less significant documents—e.g., wage garnishments—to their intended recipients directly within the SOP management system. Otherwise, you will be sending documents along to your main matter management system, where you’ll likely pay for the privilege of archiving them.
The Solution is CSC
By employing SOP Manager, provided by CSC, you’ll find there is no direct charge for this service. If your corporation receives a notice of service of process related to a major defensive action, you can apply rules that will deliver them directly into your central matter management system. CSC doesn’t charge users per seat license, making it cost-effective when relying on outside counsel or other third parties to use those systems. With SOP Manager, CSC provides a stronger overall return on investment for organizations, resulting in a tremendous value add for your business.
Additional Features of SOP Manager
Single-point SOP management:
CSC’s SOP Manager allows you to manage the intake and distribution of your documents in one place. In its role as your registered agent, CSC delivers your documents and notifications into the system seamlessly. Whether your company comprises dozens or hundreds of entities, CSC’s SOP Manager can integrate them in a single, secure environment.Sorting and prioritization:
CSC Document Type is included in the subject line of new document notifications related to service of process, allowing you to quickly sort and prioritize notifications to handle the most critical documents first.
Prompt SOP notification:
Your ability to mount a prompt defense and fulfill your legal responsibilities depends greatly on how fast you find out about the new SOP. CSC’s SOP Manager lets you know within 24 hours of SOP delivery when legal actions are served on your entities. Equally important, the service of process information won’t get lost or degraded in the process of getting it to the right internal and external contacts. You and those you identify will receive all the relevant information electronically through convenient, easily tracked email alerts that allow you to link directly to the documents.
Our SOP solution should be able to integrate fully with your existing matter management system. CSC’s SOP Manager uses an Application Program Interface (API) to transfer your SOP data, history, and documents into whatever commercial or proprietary matter management tool you currently use. Our SOP Rules feature also enables us to automatically assign your preferred template to SOP when we receive it.
Communication and collaboration:
CSC’s SOP Manager provides each participant in the legal process with the ability to share SOP information and knowledge over a secure, encrypted, real-time electronic work environment. You can share information, set alerts and create tasks, and ensure compliance with your procedures. You can control and grant immediate access to those within your organization—as well as others outside your organization, such as insurers or outside counsel.
Secure role-based access:
CSC’s SOP Manager is access-driven, so users only see the SOP data and documents they are granted access to view. The system provides folder-level protection and secure workrooms within each SOP matter.
Tasks, notes, reminders:
CSC’s SOP Manager allows users to create events, tasks, reminders, and announcements (via Notes) and assign them to designated individuals or groups, internally and externally. Alert notifications are sent to your email with a hypertext link contained within the notice.
You have access to both quick and advanced search capabilities. Quick searches are performed against SOP or document fields, accessible from any screen in the application. Advanced searches are performed against matter, document, notes, tasks, and email document fields.
CSC’s SOP Manager acknowledgment feature mitigates risk by recognizing that the SOP document has been received by the user responsible for handling the document.
Easily create, save, and schedule reports for future use and delivery. For every SOP, you can run a report on the captured information, based upon any combination of criteria desired.
Integrate email and any attachments to your SOP matter via Microsoft® Outlook and IBM Notes® as an optional service.
CSC’s SOP Manager allows you to see the status of your SOP documents with one glance at your screen. It’s easy to see what needs to be done next and whether the necessary tasks have been performed on schedule.
Why Partner with CSC?
CSC revolutionized the registered agent industry decades ago with the introduction of same-day, electronic service of process. Our network for receiving, scanning, indexing and distributing SOP remains state-of-the-art, and our SOP Manager is simply unrivaled. With SOP Manager, CSC can serve as your registered agent for service of process to ensure that all SOP matters are handled efficiently, even when outside the country.
The CSC difference:
Electronic service of process delivery:
All SOP documents are delivered electronically within 24 hours. CSC creates a matter for you and notifies you and your designees with an email alert that leads you directly to your documents online. CSC will also associate all subsequent service with the existing matter.
Custom SOP distribution rules:
CSC offers a sophisticated rules engine that allows us to use key data elements as the basis for your SOP distribution.
CSC’s SOP Manager integrates with any matter management system to leverage the added functions of our solution. CSC leads the industry with many successful API integrations, which seamlessly integrate your SOP data and documents with your proprietary or third-party-provided matter management tool.
CSC maintains your perpetual SOP history and a complete electronic document library with 24/7 availability.
CSC annually completes a Service Organization Control audit of the company’s data operations and underlying infrastructure. These results demonstrate that CSC maintains the highest standards in executing the responsibilities of client service, confidence, and security.
Our account management team is the best in the business.
About the Authors
Jennifer K. Mailander is associate general counsel and director of Compliance and Privacy at CSC. Ms. Mailander advises senior management and executives on strategy, business, legal, and technology matters, and has extensive experience in corporate governance, commercial law, compliance and risk management. Before joining CSC, Ms. Mailander was a legal consultant with LexisNexis® and corporate counsel and assistant secretary for Siemens Building Technologies in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her juris doctor from the University of Dayton School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Miami University. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Paul Mathews is a product manager at CSC. In this role, Mr. Mathews defines CSC’s product development vision and strategy for litigation and matter management products. Prior to his current position, Mr. Mathews spent more than 10 years serving in various roles within the operations team responsible for the intake and handling of SOP for CSC’s customers. In that capacity, he worked with many of CSC’s largest clients to create and refine the processes used to ensure the efficient and reliable delivery and distribution of SOP documents within their organizations. He also worked as a project lead for client implementations of CSC’s SOP and matter management solutions. Mr. Mathews holds a bachelor’s degree and paralegal certificate from the University of Delaware.