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Service is perhaps the most basic practice of law imaginable. All plaintiffs must serve, and all defendants must be served, for a case to proceed forward. Without service, there is no case to settle—no legal battle to wage.

According to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law[.]” Colloquially known as the Due Process Clause, this phrase has significant implications for the pendency of actions against defendants, and in particular, how those defendants are served. While “traditional” service methods, such as personal service, assure that defendants are aware of the actions pending against them, so-called “alternative” service methods may not provide the same assurances. Some alternative service methods may, in fact, run afoul of the Supreme Court of the United States’ interpretation of the Due Process Clause, thus abridging the constitutional rights of the parties involved.

This leads to a necessary inquiry: do alternative service methods, in particular, service by publication, meet the requirements of due process as laid out by the Constitution? If so, how are the requirements measured relative to more traditional service methods?