Hug Your Researcher!

CHR’s Operations Manager, Phil Bryer, spent a week on the road in Massachusetts filling in for one of our in-court researchers. His “typical” day was anything but typical. Click to read about his experiences in the field.

Back in 2016, I had the unique experience of spending a week on the road filling in for one of our researchers while they were away. As an Operations Manager, I try to take advantage of every opportunity to get a better understanding of the day-to-day. Prior to this trip, I had accompanied researchers to courthouses in several different states, but always in the role of an observer. This was going to be different. Very different. I was on my own, training-wheels off, in one of the more notoriously challenging states in our industry; Massachusetts. What follows is a typical day in the life of a field researcher, from the perspective of an office dweller who normally spends their entire workday in a cozy center-city Philadelphia office. 

8 am: Starting at our satellite office to pick up my search lists and other assignments for the day. I had been advised to wait for rush hour traffic to subside before getting on the road. The courthouse is 45 minutes away, but it can easily turn into an hour and a half if you get caught in the morning commute.

9:30 am: Faux pas #1, I should have listened and not left at 8:15. I’m just now in the vicinity of my first courthouse. No lots. Looking for parking.

9:40 am: Still looking for parking.

9:50 am: Arrive at the courthouse. Faux pas #2, no cellphone’s allowed. Back to the car.

10:00 am: Finally ready to start searching. I start with the Superior Courts that are available on the computer terminal located in the probate office of this particular court, right at the clerk’s counter. A very irate woman next to me does not know her case number to provide to the clerk, and insists that she can be helped without it (she can’t). I haven’t heard language like that at 10 AM since watching Jerry Springer while on summer vacation in middle school. I stop in the middle of my searches to help her look up her docket number. Judging by the clerk’s calm demeanor this is not a rare occurrence.

10:20 am: Computers freeze and restart. ::sigh::

11:00 am: Finished with searching Superior Court, I head across the hall to search the district court in the index books. I appear to be late to the party, as there are 2 other researchers already rifling through the poorly-bound, yet thankfully laminated binders. The books are divided into years. The number of years vary from court to court (sometimes 1 year per book, sometimes 10). Mercifully, there are only 3 sets of books at this court, meaning 1 name will have to be searched up to 3 times depending on its scope. Whether it was ‘researcher camaraderie’ or pity for the new guy, we begin trading books back and forth until I completed all of my searches.

12:15 pm: I turn my list of record requests into the clerk, who informs me that I should have them “in a few days”. Knowing the record turn-around in this court all I could think was, “I suppose 10 could be considered ‘a few’ ”. On to the next courthouse….

1:00 pm: I reach my next destination, but not before accidentally getting on and off the highway twice. My GPS is no match for MA’s ever-changing roadwork schedule.

1:05 pm: Past security (phone in-hand, go figure) and headed straight for the index books. Conspicuous by their absence in this book are names beginning with the letter “D”. I don’t know if a page fell out, or if someone successfully “expunged” their own record from public view. Either way, I now have an added trip to the counter so that the can clerk assist me with the three “D names” on my list. 

1:30 pm: No clerk at the counter. I wait.

1:35 pm: A clerk appears from the back room. Apparently, this clerk cannot help me. The clerk who can assist me will be back from lunch shortly. Again, I wait.

1:45 pm: After rolling her eyes at me so hard that she could probably see her own brain, the second clerk acquiesced and checked on the three names that I could not look up in the index books. She seemed unfazed when I informed her that the page had gone missing. I got the impression that it will not be replaced in the immediate future. Time to head back to the office….

2:30 pm: Unlike this morning, I did heed the warning of our own experienced researcher to not get caught in the afternoon rush hour, which could prevent my results from being returned in time for our team to process them before day’s end. Well, the best-laid plans often go awry when a 4-car accident on Route 3 has you grid-locked, so here I sit.

3:30 pm: Finally back at the office to distribute my results. Over 3 1/2  hours of my day has been spent in a car, and it only just occurred to me now that I haven’t even had time to eat lunch. It’s at this moment that I have an epiphany. Our previous challenges with finding the right people to fill this role came down to one major issue: poor time-management.

4:15 pm: Day one is officially in the books. Today’s court run was both humbling and enlightening, and I can’t wait to go home.

 My biggest takeaway from this week of being on the road was that the job itself is not the challenge. It’s the never-ending obstacle course that the researcher has to navigate in order to do that job efficiently. On any given day you have to balance traffic, weather (I lucked out while I was there in September), technical issues, outdated or damaged reference materials, belligerent court-goers, more traffic, frustrated clerks, dilapidated buildings, and traffic. You can’t take work home with you. You can’t stay late. Everything must be done within the operating hours of 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. It’s a nonstop juggling act, and our experience has shown that it takes a special kind of person to keep all of the balls in the air.

A good researcher is a precious commodity that should never go unappreciated. Send them holiday baskets, buy their coffee, but whatever you do, don’t call me when they’re away.

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Contact us today for #court updates and how we can best serve you during this time!

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County House Research
County House Research
As we continue to face this unprecedented time for our a nation and across the globe, we at County House Research remain committed to being your resource and providing you the best service possible during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

First and foremost, our deepest condolences go out to those friends and families who have lost loved ones during this time. May you know G-d's deepest peace and comfort as you continue forward.

With many courts closed to the public across the nation, we remain hopeful that this will soon be over, and businesses can start to heal.

If you have questions about jurisdictions that are still available or just want to say hello (!), please contact Prissy Hamilton at (215) 717-7433 x25.

We will continue to update you on changes as new information becomes available.

Thank you again to all of our industry partners for their support during these difficult and uncertain times.
We wish all our clients and colleagues safety and good health.

Blessing of peace on you all during this time!

Your family at CHR
County House Research
County House Research
County House Research remains committed to providing you the best service possible during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

We continue to provide full service in:
Cook County, Illinois
New Hampshire
NH State Police
New Jersey
Philadelphia Civil
West Virginia

Other jurisdictions may be available.
If you need searches in a jurisdiction not listed above, or if you have questions, please contact Prissy Hamilton at (215) 717-7433 x25.

We will continue to update you on changes as new information becomes available.

Thank you to all our industry partners for their support during these difficult and uncertain times. We wish all our clients and colleagues safety and good health.


COVID-19 Information Resources:
Here are some resources to help you navigate the coming weeks.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)

U.S. Department of State

Stay safe!
Your team at
County House Research, Inc
County House Research
County House Research
Happy Saint Patrick's Day from CHR!

Saint Patrick was kidnapped from Britain when he was 16 and taken to Ireland, where he was enslaved and worked as a shepherd. He escaped and returned to Britain after six years. After becoming a priest, he was led back to Ireland by a dream and returned, sharing the love and hope of G-d in the land of his former captivity.

As we all deal with health protocols and navigate this situation together, may we find "gold" in the things we are grateful for, focus on solutions and keep pushing through! There is always a bigger plan.

We're here to assist in any way we can. Stay safe!

Your team at
County House Research
County House Research
County House Research
Dear Clients and Colleagues,

In the face of difficulties arising from the current outbreak of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), we want to assure you that we remain deeply committed to our “It’s Our Search Too” philosophy. More than just a motto, It’s Our Search Too means that will do whatever we can to continue providing you with the best service possible.

Our Work Place
The best way to ensure that there are no interruptions in service is to take care of the people who make up the County House Research team. In keeping with recent health advisories, those CHR team members who are able to work from home are now doing so. We are also monitoring the situation in the courthouses to determine any health and safety considerations affecting County House Research employees. If we determine that there is a threat to the health and safety of our team members, we will communicate that information to you at the earliest possible time.

Courthouse Closures
We anticipate that over the course of the next few weeks, courthouses throughout the country will close sporadically in order to assess conditions and clean facilities. We will keep you updated on any courthouse closures or service interruptions as we learn about them. Our researchers are in continuous contact with the various courthouses we serve. If service is not available, we will communicate that information to you as soon as possible.

Current Closures
Currently, all Massachusetts courthouses will be closed on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Massachusetts courthouses are rescheduled to open on Wednesday, March 18. Will keep you apprised of conditions as information becomes available.

Information Resources
As those in our industry know only too well, good information is the best tool for making good decisions. Here are some resources to help you navigate the coming weeks.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
U.S. Department of State

We wish you all our clients and colleagues good health in the weeks ahead. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Prissy Hamilton at (215) 717-7433, x.25 or

Thank you very much.

B. Zimmerman, President
County House Research, Inc. | 1500 John F Kennedy Blvd, Suite 330 Philadelphia, PA 19102-1750
County House Research
County House Research
In light of the #Massachusetts Governor’s Declaration, #court leaders closed the Trial #Courts to the #public yesterday and today, March 16 & 17.

We will continue to keep you updated on court #delays and #closures as we are made aware.

As #business closures and #event #cancellations continue in an effort to #mitigate the spread of the #Corona #virus, be #safe, follow the recommended #hygiene protocol, stay #positive and enjoy this unexpected time with #family!
#Massachusetts #delays #closure #coronavirus #safety
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