Free Service Alerts You to Federal Cases of Interest

The major commercial legal research services allow you to create alerts that will notify you by e-mail when a new case matches your search.  Now, a new website, CourtListener, offers a no-cost alternative, providing a free alert tool covering the federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court.

To create an alert, simply enter a search query. The results page lists the matching cases and includes the option, “Save this as an alert.” Give the alert a name and specify whether you wish to receive it daily, weekly or monthly, and you are done. Once you set up an alert, you can also receive it as an RSS feed.

The search interface includes filters that allow you to narrow searches to specific courts and to search only the case name or case number. You can also use search operators to exclude words, search alternative versions of words, create wildcard searches, create proximity searches, and search phrases.

The site is the creation of Michael Lissner as part of a master’s thesis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. His goal was to create a free and competitive real-time alert tool for the U.S. judicial system.

At present, the site covers all precedential and non-precedential opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court (except for non-precedential opinions from the D.C. Circuit). The database is updated by 5:10 p.m. PST each day, with the alerts sent out shortly thereafter.  The site plans to add other courts in the future.