After nearly a year of effort, the Free Law Project has downloaded every opinion and order from the federal courts’ PACER system and has made them available for search through its RECAP archive of PACER documents.

The collection contains approximately 3.4 million orders and opinions from approximately 1.5 million federal district and bankruptcy court cases dating back to 1960, according to a blog post from the Free Law Project.  More than 400,000 of the documents were scanned and required OCR, amounting to nearly 2 million pages of text extraction.

Although PACER’s fee schedule provides charges for most types of documents, it does not charge for access to judicial opinions on PACER. Even so, accessing and searching these opinions is cumbersome and tedious. With this release from the Free Law Project, the opinions can now be more easily accessed and searched.

“Having this content available is a huge milestone for journalists, researchers, and the public that need access to primary legal materials,” MIchael Lissner, Free Law Project executive director, told me in a recent conversation. “It’s a huge collection of data that’s never been available before and we’re really excited to be launching it so people can finally study and use it.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.