When lawyers first took their legal research from dusty law library volumes to the world wide web, they relied on legacy systems like Westlaw and LexisNexis to find statutes, cases, and helpful annotations to guide their searches. At the time, these companies held a near complete monopoly over the field of legal research and legal data, and everyone from Big Law associates, to clerks, paralegals, and anyone involved in research-heavy fields were largely at their mercy.
But with the advent of a new social movement to increase the availability of free and low cost access to court data, lawyers, paralegals, and legal researchers are now armed with a diverse array of options that don’t involve prohibitive paywalls and limited, often incomplete data pools.
A SaaS Solution: What Sets UniCourt Apart
UniCourt is a proud leader in the movement to improve access to court records by changing the way attorneys, businesses, and consumers access, collect, review, and use legal data.
If outdated legacy systems with siloed data and massive paywalls are the problem, UniCourt’s Software as a Service (SaaS) platform is the solution. SaaS is a growing model allowing data to be accessed from any device on a subscription basis. Instead of forcing users to rely on a particular company’s software, SaaS models allow users to select a plan and immediately access the data that the plan provides.
Most notably, UniCourt’s Legal Data APIs allow our users to access tremendous amounts of court data anywhere, anytime. By integrating with our APIs, users will be notified via a webhook when information or documents they requested become available so they are no longer tied to a particular software system or interface.
This, however, is just one of many examples of the ways that UniCourt stands apart from legacy systems.
- Pricing transparency. A defining feature of UniCourt and other SaaS providers is that you can choose the plan that fits your needs and your budget. UniCourt clearly lists out the prices of our plans and the services included within each plan, because we want to provide predictability of price and the peace of mind that there are no hidden fees or surprises at the end of the month. Rather than going through a two-week sales process for legacy systems that can often feel like dealing with a real-estate agent to buy a home, you can sign up for UniCourt in minutes and remove the need to speak with sales representatives.
- Open data policy. UniCourt does not require steep subscription fees in order to access a tremendous amount of legal data. Our users can pay for subscriptions on a month-to-month basis and can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel at any time. We do not lock users into expensive, long-term subscriptions, only to make it a nightmare for them to cancel. And with our APIs, users can bulk download as much legal data as they want.
- Trial court data. Attorneys who practice in state and federal trial courts benefit from tracking local cases, researching the cases of the best attorneys in their jurisdictions, and forming case strategies using trial-level data, rather than parsing appellate cases on discrete procedural issues. Unlike most legacy systems that index state and federal appellate cases, UniCourt offers data from hundreds of trial-level courts nationwide – a valuable tool for attorneys with local litigation practices. We also allow users to easily track cases and receive automated notifications anytime new developments occur.
- UniCourt’s CrowdSourced Library™. We refuse to let cost prohibit people from accessing helpful legal data, and are happy to provide millions of court documents and hundreds of millions of data points to our customers for free. Anytime a user downloads documents, docket information, or gets updates from PACER or state courts, we add them to our Crowdsourced Library™ and make them freely available to all UniCourt users.
Why This Matters
Legal data is useful to everyone – not just Big Law attorneys – because professionals across industries and verticals can leverage it to make their jobs easier, to demystify the law, and to gather business intelligence.
- Law firms and litigation support professionals can use legal data for business development to strengthen existing client relationships and find new business opportunities.
- Consumers can use data to learn about the law and track their own cases in order to stay up-to-date on the legal issues impacting their lives and livelihood.
- C-suite executives can use legal data to gather business intelligence and avoid litigation risk impacting their respective industries.
- Employers can use court data to conduct background checks on prospective employees, and law firms can use court data to review the experience of potential lateral hires.
- Students can use legal data to perform more efficient, comprehensive legal research, and learn more about the mechanics of particular cases in the courtroom.
By creating a system that makes court records more organized, accessible, and useful to everyone, UniCourt is working towards improving access to justice. We are removing barriers like cost from accessing court records, aggregating data in a way that allows for more meaningful and useful legal analytics, and taking the monopoly over legal data out of the hands of legacy companies that have controlled the economy of information for too long.
Contact us if you are interested in learning more about UniCourt’s products and services and if you are interested in accessing bulk court data through our Legal Data APIs.