How Service of Process Works

How Service of Process Works

How Service of Process Works

Service of process is a linchpin of the entire US judicial system. As such, it’s important to understand how it works and what to expect. Here’s what you need to know about how service of process works.

What Triggers Process Service?

Service of process comes into play under specific circumstances. Usually, this means that someone has filed a formal complaint against someone else, claiming a physical or financial injury, or violating a specific law or laws. Once this complaint gets filed with the courts, it’s time to move on to the next step – notifying the defendant of the complaint lodged against them.

You’ve Been Served

Because our legal system strives to be fair and just, informing a defendant that a complaint has been filed against them is a crucial step. This is, of course, the part of the process that people are most familiar with. Documents detailing that complaint need to be delivered to the defendant in a way that is verifiable; this is where process servers are hired to physically serve these documents to the defendant before the case against them can proceed.

Service of process is usually depicted on television or movies in a questionable manner; a shady defendant goes to great lengths to avoid being served by a process server who relies on subterfuge to do their job, for instance. This is, of course, wildly exaggerated; process servers are highly professional and have an exhaustive, almost encyclopedic knowledge as to what’s permitted and what’s not when it comes to serving a defendant papers.

Not Just for Defendants

Service of process isn’t exclusively used to alert defendants that there is a complaint lodged against them. In many instances, you may be served papers to request your appearance or response at a court proceeding. Most commonly this will be to have a deposition taken, pursuant to a subpoena, to produce certain documents related to a court case, or even to testify in open court.

Order in the Court

Service of process is serious business. Hiring a process server is an integral step in pursuing a case. Meanwhile, not responding to service of process is a bad idea, as this can lead to you losing your case, contempt-of-court, hefty fines, or even jail time.

Whichever way you look at it, process service is an integral part of any legal action, whether in state or federal court.

Favorite Legal Research Tips and/or Tools

Favorite Legal Research Tips and/or Tools

Favorite Legal Research Tips and/or Tools

Pulling your hair out in your own practice? Don’t know where to start or which direction to turn? Here’s a collection of Rapid Legal’s favorite legal research tips and tools to make your life easier.

Understand the Issue

Before you begin, you have to take steps to ensure that you have as full an understanding of the issue as possible. This might seem like 1L stuff but the truth is that you need this foundational information to work a case effectively – not taking this first step seriously could jeopardize your ability to do so in the future.

Understand the Controlling Statute

Before you start drafting and filing paperwork on a case, you also need to ensure that the statute or case precedent you’re relying upon is still good law. This means identifying the scope of the controlling statute and analyzing whether your current issue falls within that scope. It also means checking that subsequent case law hasn’t altered the law’s reading in a way that might reflect negatively on your own case.

Create Your Own Specified Resource List

Plenty of law firms have a list of easily-accessible resources for attorneys and legal professionals to peruse while building a case for a client. Wile these lists are obviously designed to make it less strenuous to conduct research, oftentimes you’re going to need a specific resource that exists off-list.

To save time and energy in the future, either for yourself or for colleagues, create and maintain your own specified resource lists. These can be as simple as a set of bookmarks in your web browser or as complex as a cross-referenced Excel spreadsheet; the level of detail is up to you.

Step Back and Evaluate Your Progress

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’ve got thirteen different books on case law open on your desk and twice as many windows open on your desktop. If it feels like you’re drowning in information but still not finding the knowledge you seek, step back and gain some perspective.

A highly-defined focus is good for single issues, but has the side-effect of making it easier to miss the bigger picture. Stepping back and examining your progress so far can aid in pinpointing logical fallacies or weaknesses in your argument, errors in attribution, or any number of other issues that could result in a negative outcome.

When All Else Fails, Turn to Your Colleagues

There’s a reason it’s called the “practice” of law – you need to literally practice for years before learning all there is to learn, and with the legal landscape changing all the time thanks to the malleable nature of case precedent, an effective legal professional has to demonstrate high levels of mental agility that need to be learned over time.

No one woke up the morning after passing the bar with an invitation to sit on the US Supreme Court. It’s only through years of practice and study – and enlisting the help of colleagues – that you’ll put your best foot forward. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to solicit opinions and advice from paralegals, associates, partners, law librarians; access to the knowledge your colleagues possess will always be the best tool at your disposal.

The 5 Best Legal Apps that Every Lawyer Needs

The 5 Best Legal Apps that Every Lawyer Needs

The 5 Best Legal Apps that Every Lawyer Needs

Thanks to the rise of mobile apps, we’re all increasingly connected in the 21st century. That goes for attorneys and legal professionals, too – the online marketplace is jammed with legal apps made to make your job easier. While there is no one “perfect” app for every legal professional out there, there are some that come pretty darn close – here are five of the very best law apps available now that will help you practice law in the new millennium.

1. Fastcaseg

Out in the field and need a read on some case law in a hurry? Fastcase has you covered. Available for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone, Fastcase can provide you with the on-the-go research you need. If it was good enough to win the New Product Award from the American Association of Law Libraries, it’s good enough for your practice.

2. Depose

Are you constantly taking depositions? Toss out that dog-eared legal pad and upgrade to Depose. Designed to keep track of the question-and-answer format that depositions fall into, it’s easy to input questions, keep track of answers, and then export them once you’re done. Right now, Depose is only available for Android, but it’s only a matter of time before the developers add iOS support as well.

3. CamScanner

Document management can be a real chore when you’re in the field. That’s where CamScanner comes in. Available for both iOS and Android, this legal app harnesses the power of your mobile device’s camera to generate PDF documents that you can then annotate, share, and upload on the fly. Password protection provides high levels of security for sensitive documents, while built-in optical character recognition can even pick out text from images and import it into a PDF that can then be edited.

4. Black’s Law Dictionary (9th Edition)

Thought you had seen the last of this big behemoth after law school? You should have known better. There’s no hauling that brick of a law dictionary around with you, but you can still access 45,000 terms at the swipe of a screen. An added bonus is the app’s WestLaw login integration. The only downside is the app is an iOS exclusive, but there’s an Android version in the works.

5. NotaryCam

While it’s different than the rest of the legal apps on this list, NotaryCam is perfect for those attorneys and other legal professionals that are always in need of something notarized. Now you don’t have to hunt down the closest notary public – just upload your documents to NotaryCam and a notary will electronically notarize anything you want. NotaryCam is only available on iOS devices at the moment but that’s likely to change.

Legal Apps for the New Millennium and Beyond

The 5 legal apps above aren’t the only ones out there – that much is obvious. And it’s important to note that as an attorney, paralegal, or another legal professional, your mileage may vary. That being said, the digital landscape is constantly evolving – not so different than the legal one – so keep your eyes peeled for new and exciting legal apps coming up on the horizon!

How to Become a Paralegal

How to Become a Paralegal

How to Become a Paralegal

If the world of law fascinates you and the idea of being paid to learn more about it sounds enticing, becoming a paralegal might be the ideal job for you.

Even though you won’t need to attend law school like attorneys, you will need to complete a few requirements before you can enter the paralegal field.

This mini guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to become a paralegal.

How to Become a Paralegal: 3 Things You Need to Do

Becoming a paralegal may be more of a reality than you might think.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that paralegal and legal assistant employment will grow as much as 15% between 2016 and 2026, which is a higher than the combined average for all occupations.

Truthfully, there’s no better time to consider a career as a paralegal. Here’s how you can start your journey:

Step 1 – Complete a Paralegal Studies Program

Before a law firm will consider hiring you, you will need to have a paralegal certificate, at the minimum. There are several options for completing paralegal program requirements, many of which can now occur completely online.

Some paralegals receive a certificate or associate’s degree, while others will earn Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. Your choice depends on how much money you want to earn and how much you wish to advance your career.

Step 2 – Find the Right Employment

Becoming a paralegal in the field looks a bit different than it does in the classroom. Once you satisfy your program requirements and receive your certificate or degree, you’ll want to seek employment with a law firm that provides on-the-job training to transition you into a real paralegal role.

Step 3 – Earn Your Paralegal Certification

To become a fully certified paralegal, you will need at least one year of experience on the job and must be able to pass an accreditation test.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Paralegal?

Knowing how long it takes to become a paralegal depends on your career goals. Earning the minimum certificate will not take as long as completing a Master’s degree program.

In general, you can obtain a certificate in just a few months. An associate’s degree will require four semesters, while a Bachelor’s degree will take eight semesters from start to finish. If you decide to pursue a Master’s degree, you should tack on another four semesters.

In Closing

Becoming a paralegal can be an exciting, rewarding career. Take some time to review your options so that you can make the best decision for your future.

For more helpful insights into the legal field, visit our blog resources.

What Does Going Paperless Really Mean for Law Firms?

What Does Going Paperless Really Mean for Law Firms?

What Does Going Paperless Really Mean for Law Firms?

Legal teams are seemingly drowning in paperwork at every angle. Storing it all isn’t the only issue. How do you find what you need when you need it? How many copies do you keep on hand for clients?

Wading through piles of data isn’t just time-consuming, it’s also costly.

The digital age has brought us paperless capabilities to help combat the war on paper. However, the word “paperless” for law firms isn’t as self-explanatory as it seems. In fact, if you eventually achieve a completely paperless office, you may have performed the impossible.

Let’s look at what it means to go paperless in your law firm and see how paperless solutions can help you run a better practice.

What Does a Paperless Law Firm Look Like?

We now live in a world where just about any piece of information you want is available within a few keystrokes and clicks. And, thanks to the increasing use of the smartphone, this information is readily available wherever you are. People are exchanging digital data through email, text messages, and file sharing programs like Dropbox.

Because of this widespread availability, it simply doesn’t make sense to keep paper records on hand. Digital files are already part of a lawyer’s daily business, and keeping unnecessary paper in the mix can complicate your ability to serve your clients.

However, having a paperless law office doesn’t mean eliminating all paper. Rather, think of it as significantly reducing your paper usage, limiting yourself to printing only what’s absolutely crucial and keeping the rest in the digital world.

For law firms, this means managing cases and documents from your computer rather than a paper file. It’s emailing documents rather than using the postal service. It’s using eFiling to help you meet deadlines.

In short, investing in a paperless solution can give you the flexibility to manage every area of your practice – even if you’re not in the office.

Taking Your Law Practice Paperless

There are several benefits to adopting a paperless practice. For starters, you’ll save money on paper and toner by keeping files on the server. You can find and retrieve documents easily to serve your clients faster. It’s a smaller impact on the environment. And it offers more security than having papers scattered throughout the office.

Before you commit to taking your law firm paperless, there are a few things you should look for:

Cloud Storage

Cloud computing has given data management a boost by relieving you of maintenance and associated costs. It’s safe, secure, and makes it easy to share information between team members rather than having documents residing on a single computer.


Your paperless solution should eliminate the security concerns of paper records. By ensuring only authorized eyes are able to access certain information, you’re protecting your clients’ private data and your firm’s best interests.


You should look for flexibility to ensure you’re investing in a system that works how you want it to. Having a customizable approach can help reduce your learning curve so you can start enjoying the benefits faster.

In Closing

The world continues to gravitate toward digital solutions, and law firms are stepping up their adoption rates. Once you make the transition and see how much it’s improved your practice, you’ll wish you’d started sooner.

For more helpful tips visit our blog.

4 Ways Law Firms Can Use Social Media To Earn New Clients

4 Ways Law Firms Can Use Social Media To Earn New Clients

4 Ways Law Firms Can Use Social Media To Earn New Clients

LinkedIn has long been the social network of choice for lawyers wanting to present a professional image. But many law firms are finding success in the social media world by establishing their brand on multiple channels.

In fact, some data shows that nearly a quarter of lawyers who are using social media confirm they’ve retained a client because of their efforts.

If you want to be among them, take a look at these four easy ways you can put social media to work for you:

#1 – Promote Your Blog

If you don’t yet have a blog for your law firm, there’s no better time to start. The number of legal blogs has been steadily climbing, with just over a quarter of firms actively blogging in 2016.

Your blog can accomplish many goals, from offering information to prospects seeking answers to helping clients find you through online searches. You can promote each blog post on your social media channels, which can ultimately give your website traffic a boost.

If you’re lacking inspiration for your blog, think about different questions your clients ask, then craft articles around those topics. When you can solve a problem, your audience is likely to remember you for it.

#2 – Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

Your blog and social media channels aren’t just to provide information to your clients. They’re also prime opportunities for you to position yourself as a leader in your field.

Truth be told, people have a multitude of options when it comes to choosing an attorney. They need to know what makes you the best choice. This isn’t to say you should spend all your social media airtime talking about your case win/loss ratio, community awards, or significant achievements.

Rather, you can promote yourself by creating blog posts and other content that solves problems, answers questions, and gives people something to think about.

Showcase your work with other professionals in your area. Talk about industry news, such as new laws that have been passed. Give helpful tips, such as how to avoid court filing rejections. Above all, remember that anything you share or post should hold some significance to your audience, not just your personal agenda.

#3 – Earn Reviews

Client reviews are digital gold when it comes to professional services. People want to know they’re partnering with someone who is committed to their needs.

Social media reviews, such as those found on Facebook, are the online equivalent to word-of-mouth marketing, except these reviews aren’t reserved for the client’s family and friends. Once a user posts a review on your business page, everyone who visits your page can see what others had to say about you.

It’s not unethical to ask satisfied clients to leave a review and share a few words on their experience. Even one bad review isn’t usually enough to dent your reputation, especially if you have plenty of five-star ratings to overpower it.

#4 – Avoid ‘Advertising’ in Your Posts

Your social media business page should be geared for building relationships, not transactions. The more you talk about yourself and the services you offer, the more likely your audience will think you’re hungry for business. This is a huge turnoff for many users.

Instead, spend your time on social media providing helpful, insightful information to your clients. Most companies follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the posts revolve around information and the remaining 20% is spent promoting your firm.
If you want to advertise your services, you’re better off using ad-specific features rather than a status update.

For more great tips on growing your legal practice, check out our blog.

california court holidays 2018

California Court Holidays 2018

california court holidays 2018

The California courts will be closed in observance of the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day: Mon, Jan 2
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Mon, Jan 15
  • Lincoln’s Birthday: Mon, Feb 12
  • President’s Day: Mon, Feb 19
  • César Chávez Day: Fri, Mar 30
  • Memorial Day: Mon, May 28
  • Independence Day: Wed, July 4
  • Labor Day: Mon, Sept 3
  • Columbus Day: Mon, Oct 8
  • Veterans Day: Mon, Nov 12
  • Thanksgiving Day: Thur, Nov 22
  • Day after Thanksgiving: Fri, Nov 23
  • Christmas Day: Tues, Dec 25


See the updated page with California Court Holiday Schedule

San Diego Courthouse Building

Closure of Courthouse Buildings San Diego

San Diego Courthouse Building

On November 9, 2017, the Superior Court of California County of San Diego posted this Public Notice.

Pursuant to Government Code § 68106 and Rule 10.620 of the California Rules of Court, the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, is providing notice that it will be closing the Family Court Building at 1555 Sixth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 and the Madge Bradley building at 1409 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 (including both business operations and courtrooms), and transferring the these operations to the new San Diego Central Courthouse at 1100 Union Street, San Diego, CA 92101 (the “Central Courthouse”).

The Family Court Building, which currently houses courtrooms F-1 to F-6, will now close at 3:30 p.m. on December 13, 2017.

The Madge Bradley building, which currently houses courtrooms F-8, F-9 and PC-1, PC-2, and PC-3 will now close at 3:30 p.m. on December 14, 2017.

Read full notice here >

eFiling for Los Angeles Superior Court - Civil Cases

eFiling for Los Angeles Superior Court - Civil Cases

eFiling for Los Angeles Superior Court - Civil Cases

An update on the status of Los Angeles Superior Court (“LASC”) going live with eFiling for Civil Cases.

It is expected that eFiling for Limited Civil Cases will begin in mid-2018, with eFiling for Unlimited Civil Cases sometime late summer 2018. As we get closer to these timeframes we will post updates confirming the Court dates.

We’re Certified to eFile for You

As a certified Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP), you can trust we’re compliant with all current eFiling standards. See all the counties we eFile on Electronic Court Filing page.

LASC announces limited jurisdiction unlawful detainer

LASC Offers Limited Jurisdiction UD Cases in More Courts

LASC announces limited jurisdiction unlawful detainer

LASC announces limited jurisdiction unlawful detainer (eviction) cases to be heard in every judicial district.

Effective Oct. 10, 2017, Los Angeles Superior Court will expand limited jurisdiction unlawful detainer operations from seven to eleven courthouses as follows:

  • Chatsworth Courthouse, 9425 Penfield Ave., Chatsworth 91311 (New)
  • Compton Courthouse, 200 West Compton Blvd., Compton 90220 (New)
  • Inglewood Courthouse, One Regent Street, Inglewood 90301 (New)
  • West Covina Courthouse, 1427 West Covina Parkway, West Covina 91790 (New) (Effective Oct. 10, 2017, unlawful detainer cases will no longer be heard at Pomona Courthouse.)
  • Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse, 42011 Fourth Street West, Lancaster 93534
  • Governor George Deukmejian (Long Beach) Courthouse, 275 Magnolia, Long Beach 90802
  • Norwalk Courthouse, 12720 Norwalk Blvd., Norwalk 90650
  • Pasadena Courthouse, 300 East Walnut, Pasadena 91101
  • Santa Monica Courthouse, 1725 Main St., Santa Monica 90401
  • Stanley Mosk Courthouse, 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles 90012
  • Van Nuys East Courthouse, 6230 Sylmar Ave., Van Nuys 91401

View the Notice To Attorneys information here.