Skip to Main Content

Dockets, Court Documents, Transcripts, and Recordings

What is PACER? What is CM/ECF?

CM/ECF and PACER are the two components of the federal courts' online filing system:

  • CM/ECF  (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) allows litigants to electronically file and view federal court documents. Only litigants can use CM/ECF and they can only use it for cases they are litigating.
  • PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) allows anyone to to pay a fee and view documents filed using CM/ECF. Anyone can sign up for a PACER account, whether they are an attorney, law student, or member of the public. 

Although PACER offers tens of thousands of documents, it does not include the following:

  • State documents- PACER is a federal system only. Check the California Courts Find My Court and National Center for State Courts for information on similar state court systems.
  • Documents for certain federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Tax Courts.
  • Documents that were not filed on CM/ECF, usually because the document was filed before e-filing became widespread in the early 2000s or because the document was filed by someone who was not required to e-file (such as a self-represented litigant.)
  • Excerpts of the record- multivolume excerpts of lower court records filed in paper with the court as part of Court of Appeals cases.
  • Older documents that have been removed from PACER.
  • Documents that have been sealed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

How Can I Access PACER?

You can create and access a work or personal PACER account at:

If you are a current Loyola Law School student, faculty member, or staff member, please use Bloomberg to access PACER content. Bloomberg retrieves PACER documents for law school accounts for free and explicitly allows students to use their law school accounts to retrieve dockets and court documents for work. To get started, see the relevant page of this guide:

 If you do not have a Bloomberg account or have forgotten your Bloomberg username or password, please use the following links:

If you are a student who would like to practice using PACER before you graduate (or a professor who would like to have your students do so), please use the free:

How Can I Reduce PACER Costs?

Because PACER charges you for each search run and each document retrieved, PACER fees can quickly add up if you run searches that return pages of results, repeatedly view long documents, or forget to save a document and have to retrieve it again.

To keep costs down, start by checking any databases you already have access to, such as Bloomberg, Westlaw, and Lexis. In particular, Bloomberg provides free access to PACER documents others have requested; retrieves PACER documents for you, usually within minutes; and emails and saves any documents you request, so you never have to pay for the same document twice. Bloomberg waives all PACER retrieval fees for law students and, even for attorneys, may be more cost effective because it allows you to view documents previously requested by others and efficiently searches for and automatically saves all documents.

Two cheaper alternatives to Bloomberg also allow you to access documents requested by other PACER users and automatically preserve all of the documents you retrieve:

Before checking PACER, it's also worth checking trustworthy free websites for federal cases, such as:

Finally, you can cut costs by learning to use PACER effectively and efficiently, finding the cases you want on the first try and without generating a long list of cases. (See below.)

How Can I Learn More About Using PACER?

PACER offers guides and a practice site to help you learn to use it effectively and efficiently: