One way to avoid the cost of downloading documents from the federal courts’ PACER database is by getting them instead from the RECAP Archive, a database of millions of PACER documents and dockets maintained by the Free Law Project.
But before you can get a document out of RECAP, the document had to have been added there in the first place.
To make that happen, RECAP has relied on its free browser extensions by which every PDF a user purchases on PACER is automatically added to the RECAP archive. Last year, it extended that to iPhones, iPads and Macs.
But now there is a new way to add PACER documents to RECAP — one that, if enough legal professionals use it, should dramatically increase the size of RECAP’s archives.
That new way is to simply add “firstname.lastname@example.org” to your PACER account so that every document you receive from PACER is also sent to RECAP.
Whenever a new document is filed in a case, PACER’s electronic filing system (CM/ECF) automatically sends an email — called a notice of electronic filing, or NEF — to the case’s attorneys of record and any pro se litigants with a link for one free download of the document.
Attorneys can add any number of secondary email addresses for others they wish to also receive their NEFs. Typically, this is used to add other members of the litigation team or other affiliated professionals within a firm.
Now, if you add RECAP as a secondary recipient, every NEF you receive will also go to RECAP, which will automatically download the documents and add them to the archive.
Besides helping to develop RECAP, a benefit of this for legal professionals is that they no longer need to worry about missing the NEF and its one free download. The documents will always be free to download from RECAP.
Free Law says it can also help firms set up webhooks that can pull the documents directly into a firm’s KM system.
With regard to documents under seal, Free Law says its system is designed never to add sealed content to RECAP.