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Research Tips for Faculty Research Assistants

This guide supplements training for research assistants for law faculty.


Access to court documents and dockets is improving all the time. Access to federal documents is very good due to system-wide filing standards. Access to state court documents is hit-and-miss.

Search Tips

Docket searches can be tricky, even when you have the docket number, because docket numbers can change as cases are appealed and can be formatted differently. Searching for dockets by topic can be almost impossible, but the federal PACER system classifies cases using nature of suit codes which helps. For a full list of federal nature of suit codes, click here. Docket searching is generally most successful when you know the party name(s), docket or case number, attorney(s), and/or law firm(s).

Search Tip When Using Bloomberg Law: Make sure when you are looking at a court docket, see what it is “current as of” and consider clicking “Update Docket” so that you make sure you have everything that has been filed in a case.

Federal Dockets

State Dockets

Video Tutorial


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