UniCourt Product Release – Legal Data API Enhancements

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UniCourt Product Release – Legal Data API Enhancements

UniCourt is a leader in making court data more accessible and usable, and our industry standard Legal Data APIs provide the core infrastructure for Fortune 500 companies and AmLaw firms needing bulk access to structured and normalized data.

We are continuously improving our APIs to make data more accessible for our clients and to provide them with best in class solutions for automating data entry and saving money on costly PACER fees. As part of our ongoing enhancements to our suite of Legal Data APIs, we’re happy to share new product updates relating to our Update Case API, our new Related Cases API, and our Case API and Search API.

Update Case API

Saving our clients money through streamlining and automating their data collection with our APIs is an important driver of what we do at UniCourt. With the need for cost-reductions ever present during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed a new feature corresponding with our Update Case API to help our clients significantly reduce their PACER fees. More specifically, our new release allows clients to limit how often parties and attorneys for a PACER case are updated to curb excessive PACER fees for recurring case updates. 

Before our new release, whenever a client updated a case to look for new docket entries, the parties and attorneys for the case would be automatically included in the updated data. However, parties and attorneys change much less often than new docket entries appearing in the cases, resulting in unnecessary PACER fees with each and every update. For example, instead of getting charged $0.10 (min cost) for an update which might have had few docket entries, clients could easily end up spending $3 (max cost) for every update because the case had a large number of parties and attorneys. For clients tracking thousands of cases on a daily or hourly basis, they could easily end up with a large inflated PACER bill.

Using the “fetch_participants” option in our Update Case API, clients can now choose how often they receive updated data for parties and attorneys for a case based on when it was last fetched to keep their costs under control. It’s important to note that “fetch_participants” is an optional argument in the API, and if it is not specified in the API request, then the value is determined by PACER settings in our application. Clients can review their PACER settings here.

In addition to this cost saving update, we have also enhanced our Update Case API so that clients can now include data from the Associated Case Page and Case Summary Page when requesting a case update for PACER cases. Further, clients can also leverage our “fetch_if_older_than” field to decide how often these pages/participants should be fetched from the court since the last time they were fetched.

Related Cases API

As a part of our continued push to expand the reach of our court coverage for federal cases in PACER, UniCourt recently onboarded the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, also commonly referred to as the MDL Panel. 

The MDL Panel was created by an act of Congress in 1968 to determine whether civil litigation pending in multiple different federal districts involve common questions of fact that should be transferred to a single federal district to coordinate and consolidate pretrial proceedings, as well as determine which judges and which particular district should handle those proceedings. Some of the most common examples of MDL cases include airplane accidents, trainwrecks, hotel fires, mass torts, data security breaches, antitrust price fixing, and securities fraud. 

In bringing MDL cases online into UniCourt’s database, we recognized the need for our clients to access data for the underlying cases associated with the consolidated MDL Panel litigation, so we developed our new Related Cases API to make it incredibly easy to get a list of the UniCourt unique case IDs for all the related MDL cases. 

With our Related Cases API, any PACER case, whether U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, or MDL, that is updated with the Associated Cases page will have all of those linked cases returned in this API. This provides clients a streamlined method for downloading all the data they need for associated cases in bulk, so they can do more in depth analysis of the underlying cases and all of the applicable claims and issues presented. While our new API currently only returns the related cases for PACER, it will eventually be extended to return cases included in our state court coverage as well. 

Search API & Case API

Along with our solutions for saving money on PACER fees and managing the data needs for MDL cases, we’re also pleased to share the new release of our normalized IDs for parties, attorneys, law firms, and judges in our Search API and Case API.

UniCourt’s suite of Legal Data APIs are not only focused on providing our clients with bulk access to the legal data they need, but they are also geared toward giving our clients access to data that has been organized, cleaned, and structured by our machine learning to make it readily available for case research, case tracking, entity tracking, and legal analytics. Through the process of entity normalization, we are able to identify real-world entities for the particular parties, attorneys, law firms, and judges involved in litigation, and we then assign them a specific normalized ID that can link back to all of their related cases and interconnected data points. 

With this new release, clients can now use our Search API to begin locating all of the data for normalized entities by querying for the attributes norm_party_id, norm_attorney_id, norm_law_firm_id, and norm_judge_id. And in addition to being able to search using normalized IDs, when clients use our Case API to obtain information on cases, they will now receive API responses with added fields for any applicable normalized IDs for parties, attorneys, law firms, and judges connected to that case. 

Currently, our normalized IDs are in Alpha stage and are expected to change until they reach Beta stage in Q3 this year. Stay tuned for more updates on our normalized IDs.

Legal Data as a Service

UniCourt is committed to continuously honing and improving our APIs to ensure our Legal Data as a Service (LDaaS) offerings provide our clients with the data they need for business development, competitive intelligence, analytics, machine learning models, and process automation. We remain focused on developing new ways to save our clients money on exorbitant PACER fees, and providing innovative solutions to automate the collection of legal data in bulk. 

To learn more about the APIs in this release or our suite of Legal Data APIs, contact us and we’ll be in touch.