Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009
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Law Practice Management Tip of the Week

RECAPture the public domain: Access PACER documents for free


Those of you who access appellate, district and bankruptcy court records via the Federal Judiciary's PACER system likely view that system as clunky and over-expensive, at 8 cents per page for document access. But, while the clunkiness remains, there is a new web plug-in that can get you PACER documents for free.

The system, known as RECAP ("pacer" reversed), works as follows: PACER users operating the RECAP add-on will have each document they access downloaded to an online repository. Each document so accessed and archived will then be free to every other PACER/RECAP user, via RECAP's repository, rather than through PACER's paywall.

It looks really easy; but, there are a couple of things that you should note:

  1. RECAP is a Firefox plug-in, so you'll only be able to access it using the Firefox browser; and
  2. Although you don't have to log-in to PACER to access RECAP, other access points are, at this point, cumbersome, and intentionally so, due to a desire of the creators of RECAP to protect the privacy of litigants.

For more information, check out this short, but informative article from the Washington Post, as well as the RECAP Home page, where there is an instructional video, a series of fulsome posts and at which the creators of the program are refreshingly honest and open with respect not only to the advantages of RECAP, but also with respect to its disadvantages, and potential problems.

RECAP is a great way to keep pace, while keeping expenses down.


For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management Section. Call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530 to join.

To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, contact Co-Chairs Alan J. Klevan or Rodney Dowell.
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