Is Your Firm Secretly Wasting $100,000 or More Annually on PACER Download Fees?

April 23, 2018

If You Could Put $50K or Even $150K Back into Your Firm’s Bottom-Line, Every Year, Would You?

As we travel around the country we often ask top firms, ‘How much are your yearly federal PACER download fees?” Surprisingly, the answer often is, “That’s a good question, I don’t know.” Once they investigate these costs, most clients are surprised to learn how high they are.

The truth is large firms with a significant portion of their business in the federal space are often wasting six figures on PACER downloads – annually. Think about that for a moment – that is a hard cost that is impacting your firm’s bottom line, year after year.

Root of the Problem Stems from Attorney Behavior

The “why” can be answered simply: attorneys are trained to be efficient. As most people know, Federal courts keep their documents locked within a paywalled database – PACER. To access the court documents, you get a first look for free, but after that you must pay 10 cents per page. A fee that doesn’t seem like much on its face, until you examine attorney behavior.

What “could” happen to avoid the fees is for an admin to download a document once and store it in the firm’s document management system. When attorney’s need to access the document, they could be trained to go to the DMS to find the document. However, what we find in practice is that it is not efficient for attorneys to search the DMS. They live in Outlook, and instead they will go to their email, search for a document, and download it. After the first download, the charges start to incur. And over the lifetime of a case, it’s not uncommon for attorneys to go back to the same document/email and download it 4, 5, or even a dozen or more times. They are also likely to pass the email on to additional firm associates. These associates may or may not have been on the original court filing of the case. And how will those associates access the document? They will also click and download the document, possibly multiple times.

Over the course of time all these clicks and downloads that attorneys are doing on documents really add up. This is how firms incur costs of $50K and over $400k in extreme situations.

If there was a way you could recapture those wasted PACER download fees would you be interested? In addition to saving those hard costs, what if it was also possible to simultaneously make drastic improvements to docketing workflow and accuracy when processing PACER ECFs overall?

How do We Solve the Problem, but Still Allow Attorney’s to Have the Efficiency of Using Outlook to Quickly Access Documents?

Newer, more advanced docketing platforms process electronic court data feeds from most major state jurisdictions, and also process federal PACER ECF receipts automatically. They download PACER documents automatically without the need of a human to assist in the process. And these advanced docketing systems also push an email with a link to the document to the attorneys’ inboxes and calendars. Attorneys can download the document, repeatedly, without incurring any costs. This avoids the need to ask attorneys to change the work flow they have honed over years of practice.

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