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Part 2: Demystifying the PACER Services Marketplace, Docketing & Court Services

Demystifying the Pacer services marketplace from docketing to analytics for legal firms


Part II: Docket & Court Services



  • Docket & Court Services is the “mystery department” to get filings done. Their primary function is calendaring and case maintenance for attorneys.
  • Risk Management, Information Gathering, Docketing Software Consideration and Vendors are the four primary areas of docketing team concerns.
  • Vendors like PacerPro utilize a secondary email address to make sure docketing teams easily receive PDF attachments of electronic court filings for their review.
  • CourtLink, CourtExpress, Bloomberg are utilized as monitors when courts do not allow delegates for attorney emails or may not be requiring electronic filings, but maintain an electronic docket.
  • Docketing software today is usually rules based. Most docketing software today does not include an automated docketing process. It doesn’t scan or automatically puts in the dates and completes the filings.
  • You have to have a docketing staff that understands when responses are due, and ensure the information is input correctly. Court orders must be read by their entirety to ensure accuracy.
  • Docketing software can be utilized for internal calendaring on Outlook and reminders for deadlines, as well as reporting for customized reports for attorney or litigation team requests.
  • Integration with other firm/vendor software can be very helpful. Utilizing tools that will automatically download filings, rename them and send them to internal shared databases is very helpful for docketing teams. (e.g., Manifold from PacerPro)

 JoAnn Buss discussed the work of docket and court services professionals, which she acknowledged is sometimes a mystery to other law firm employees. The main focus is calendar and case maintenance for attorneys. To ensure success, there are four main areas of concern: (1) risk management, (2) information gathering, (3) docketing software considerations, and (4) vendor selection. 

 Risk management primarily involves the calculation of litigation deadlines and timely communication of those deadlines to attorneys and staff members. While this may seem straightforward, quality control is essential to ensure accuracy so that no deadlines are missed. If possible, it’s best to have a docketing specialist assigned to each case team, and many firms now have staff attorneys or managing attorneys to oversee this work. 

 Information gathering is essential to assembling the relevant data into the docketing system. A key to this function is to set up delegate email addresses in the docketing software so that notices go to the docketing team, and not just to the case team. This helps ensure that nothing falls between the cracks. Communication with the case team is important to ensure that any documents not required to be filed with the court (e.g., notice of deposition) are entered into the system. Monitoring court dockets via various vendor services is another way to help ensure that all deadlines are captured in the software. 

 Buss next covered various docketing software considerations. She noted that most firms use rules-based systems that help calculate dates for various matters. However, this approach is not complete or automatic. A member of a docketing team must review case documents and court orders thoroughly to determine if responses are required and then manually enter those deadlines in the docketing system. 

 Another docketing software consideration is the ability to push notifications to an attorney’s calendar and send periodic reminders via email. The ability to customize these reports and notifications is a nice feature so that you can adapt to various attorney preferences. 

 Integration between a docketing tool and other firms tools, such as accounting and DMS, can make it much easier to set up and maintain docketing records. Connecting with knowledge management and marketing systems can also be beneficial, since docket records have so much data that can be leveraged for those functions. 

 Finally, Buss covered some of the major players in the rules-based docketing software area, including CompuLaw/eDockets, CourtAlert, ProLaw, and JuraLaw. There is no single solution that fits the needs of all firms, so it is important to do a thorough review of your needs and select the best option. While these do provide value to docket management and some overlap with other docketing tools, the needs of your firm may dictate your best choice for a full software suite for managing your firms needs.

 About the Webinar:

On June 7, 2022, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) hosted a webinar called Demystifying the PACER Services Marketplace, From Docketing to Analytics that helped explain and clarify the service options from various vendors. It was moderated by well-known legal tech journalist Bob Ambrogi, who was joined by a knowledgeable and experienced panel of legal professionals: 

  • Jeremy Sullivan, Manager of Competitive Intelligence and Analytics at DLA Piper
  • Marshall Voizard, Reference Supervisor at Hughes Hubbard & Reed
  • JoAnn Buss, Senior Docket Analyst at Cooley
  • Stephanie Goutos, Practice Innovation Attorney at Gunderson Dettmer 

Each panelist covered one of the four main categories of PACER-related services offered by various providers: Analytics, Docketing, Tracking & Alerts, and Electronic Case Filing Automation. Due to the number of PACER tools on the market today, it can be confusing when they overlap to truly determine which ones are best for your organization.

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