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Part 3: Demystifying the PACER Services Marketplace, Docket Tracking & Alerts

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


Part IV: Docket Tracking & Alerts

 Summary Outline:

  • Many legal products offer some level of tracking and alerting, but you need to make sure you choose the right product – despite product overlap in some capabilities.
  • Firms will subscribe to multiple legal research products that track docket filings or alerts due to various firm needs and software strengths.
  • The key is to find the right product, for the task at hand.
  • The 4 major considerations for evaluating tracking and alerting products are cost, coverage, functionality (and use case), and access / ease of use.
  • Different products have different ways to minimize firm costs. Some products have search that is not on PACER itself, while others crowdsource documents from their acquired database.
  • It’s important to look at all the features and functions as no two providers are created equal. Your firm may have needs that require multiple providers for different reasons.
  • Training, ease of use and enterprise application are all important considerations if you are considering firm-wide adoption from providers.
  • Tracking and Alerts are two separate things. Tracking updates to the case docket OR running an alert to find new cases.
  • PacerPro is a great tool for tracking dockets. Some advantages: Cost: ECF “Free Look”, crowdsourcing of document downloads. Functionality: Bulk downloads of documents. Access: Firmwide application, training and enterprise implementation experience. Ease of use: Users can self-manage and subscribe themselves and others to cases. Clear, color-coded markers of costs.

 Marshal Voizard discussed docket tracking and alerts. He pointed out that while many products offer some level of these functions, similar to analytics discussed by Sullivan, the key is to understand the use cases and pick the right product for the task. The key considerations he noted when selecting products are: cost, coverage, functionality, and ease of use. 

 Voizard listed over fifteen products, but focused on three with which he was most familiar: Bloomberg Law, Courthouse News, and PacerPro. These products, in particular, lead the pack in at least one of two main use cases: tracking updates to a case docket, and running alerts to find new cases. 

 For tracking updates to a case docket, he pointed to PacerPro, including two cost-effective features: the ECF “free look” and crowdsourcing of document downloads. PacerPro automatically emails all documents filed in the PACER system to the attorney of record and simultaneously enters the document into the PacerPro database, so the attorney does not need to separately pay PACER to access the document. In addition, with the crowdsourcing feature, even if someone is not an attorney of record, but is a PacerPro client, they can access the document without charge because it is stored in the PacerPro database. While this may seem like a minor feature, without it PACER costs can add up when a firm has many cases and needs to access many documents. 

 Voizard also found PacerPro’s document bulk download feature to be compelling. It allows you to download, for example, all of the documents in an entire docket at once. And with its intelligent file naming convention, the documents are organized for easy access, saving lots of time. Finally, Voizard pointed out that because the platform is easy to use, there is no concern with giving access to the entire firm. Users can subscribe themselves and others to alerts, and there is a handy color-coding feature that shows whether there is a cost to access particular documents. 

 Bloomberg Law and Courthouse News are two other products that Voizard likes. They have some similar features, such as good state court coverage and they don’t have a client billback ability. With Bloomberg Law, a user can search the full text of new case complaints, which can be helpful for some projects. Courthouse News takes a different approach, with editors adding a keyword summary for each newly-filed case, which provides a similar benefit.    

 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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