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What is an Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service?

An Entry of Appearance is a legal document that says that an attorney represents one party in a case. It is a representation to the court that an attorney represents one party or the other. The Entry of Appearance tells the circuit clerk’s office to make sure that the attorney receives notice of all documents filed with court by either side in that particular case and it also lets the clerk know that any decisions made by the judge in the case need to be sent to the attorney who filed the Entry of Appearance.

A waiver of service or summons means that a party voluntarily enters a lawsuit without requiring the opposing party to serve them with a summons and petition. If a waiver of service is not signed and filed by the responding party, then the responding party must be physically served with the lawsuit by a sheriff’s deputy or special process server.

Most people do not want to be served by a sheriff’s deputy or special process server and so elect to sign a waiver of service.

Signing an entry of appearance and waiver of service only means that the party signing the document is giving up his/her right to be served by a sheriff’s deputy. It does not mean they agree with the lawsuit or are giving up their right to notice of when any hearings are to be held. It just means they are giving up their right to be served by a sheriff with a copy of the lawsuit.

The disadvantage to the responding party by signing an entry of appearance and waiver of service is that he/she may not understand or know what they are signing. You should never sign a legal document that you don’t fully understand.

The second disadvantage to signing an entry of appearance and waiver of service is that once this document is filed with the court the responding party has 30 days to respond and file their response with the court. If you are the responding party and sign the entry of appearance and waiver of service this may not be enough time to meet with an attorney, hire an attorney, and gather all the documents your attorney needs to file a response. Strategically, you may also not want to move forward with the case that fast. Signing the entry of appearance and waiver of service starts many deadlines with the court that are automatic once this document has been filed. If you are not ready to proceed with your case, then signing this document is a bad idea.

On the other hand, if you are the filing party and want to conclude your case quickly then you need the entry of appearance and waiver of service signed and returned quickly so that you can move forward with your case. The entry of appearance and waiver of service is an acknowledgment that the responding party has notice of the lawsuit. This means that court dates can be scheduled, and the responding party now must take proactive steps in the lawsuit to settle or prepare for trial. If you are the filing party and you want your case concluded quickly or you have immediate issues that need to be addressed by the court then you want the other side to sign the entry of appearance and waiver of service quickly so that either your case can be finalized sooner or so that you can schedule a court date to have issues resolved that you can’t agree upon.