“You’ve been served.”
Perhaps you’ve heard that line in a movie. There’s a knock on the door and suddenly, a delivery man is holding up a pizza alongside a petition for divorce. In the 2008 film Pineapple Express, a process server named Dale Denton goes as far as to deliver a subpoena to a dead body. It’s a parody of the system, but it emphasizes a collective presumption we hold about process servers as cold, dogged, and willing to stop at nothing to deliver bad news.
The reality is that process servers are trained professionals helping fulfill a founding principle of our legal system— the right to a fair, just, and full hearing. According to the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, every defendant must be given proper notice of a court’s proceedings. Usually, that means court summons cannot just be mailed. They must be handed off from person to person. Improper service can invalidate an entire legal proceeding and make all parties start from square one. So, the work process servers perform is critical in ensuring that people— especially those in underserved communities— have their day in court.
Unfortunately, they are also working within one of the most antiquated and fragmented networks in our judicial system. Hiring a process server today remains an archaic and deeply manual process involving phone calls to companies or individuals covering a small geography. As court cases span jurisdictions across the country, that process becomes an increasingly challenging and time-consuming one to solve.
Proof is finding a way to overcome that problem. It’s an on-demand technology platform that connects law firms, governmental agencies, and pro se parties to a nationwide network of process servers to serve court documents. Think of it like an “Uber for process serving.” Law firms upload their paperwork to the platform, and in turn, the platform finds a server close to the defendant's or witness's location to take the job and tracks them in real time. Since it’s launch in 2018, Proof has grown to over 4,500 firms and governmental agencies and 1,500 process serving companies making sure that proper service is provided.
At The LegalTech Fund, we invest in a nexus of companies that overlap with our mission of transforming the world of law. Still, it’s rare to come across a company whose vision of leveraging technology in the legal process maps so directly onto our own. As a longtime trial attorney, Proof’s founder Eric Voogt, says “Proof's mission is to innovate great legal technology that eliminates the time-consuming and mundane tasks required to run a law firm, leading to the more efficient delivery of legal documents and greater access to legal services and courts for more Americans and American businesses.” When we hear that, it feels like we’ve met one of our own. We are thrilled to announce our investment in Proof and congrats to co-founders, Eric, Mark, and the entire Proof team!