Research Hack: Using Bloomberg Law for Docket Searches

There’s a lot of debate right now about the cost for searching court dockets through resources like PACER, which can pack a hefty price tag with very little forewarning. Many are advocating for free PACER searching and Rep. Doug Collins introduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act of 2018 to accomplish that goal. In the meantime, those of us attempting to track cases have to get creative to avoid paying big bucks to simply get an update.

My biggest problem with PACER is that you have no way of knowing how many pages are going to be downloaded when you click that “GO” button. Many a time I’ve sat at my computer, eyes squeezed shut like one attempting to defuse a bomb in a movie, before clicking the mouse and slowly opening my eyes one at a time to see what the damage is. Then comes the inevitable “I’m sorry” email to my accounts coordinator for the massive cost I’ve just incurred.

Well all that is in the past and I am seriously more excited about this than I would like to admit. Bloomberg Law® has a docket search feature that is completely free! Subscribers to the Law Library can stop by to search our Bloomberg Law® Terminal, where they can view dockets and court materials for as many cases as they would like without having to pay those annoying download fees.

Here’s how it works. When one subscriber to Bloomberg Law® (not just the Law Library, mind you, but anywhere from any institution) requests that Bloomberg update a docket or download a trial court document, then every subscriber to Bloomberg Law® gains access to that docket or document. So one person pays and everyone else benefits. But what if no one has paid to update your case? Bloomberg Law® will tell you that too. On the right side of the page, you’ll see a “Currentness Tracker” (see below), which tells you if the docket you’re looking at is up-to-date and if not, what has happened (in general) since the docket was last updated. You can then take this information into PACER and navigate directly to the documents you would like to view and save yourself some money!

Stop by the Law Library to check it out!