Use Our Webhooks to Connect PACER to Everything

Michael Lissner

Last Wednesday we launched our webhook system for legal data. It allows you to automatically take actions when things happen in PACER and CourtListener.

Today I thought I'd show what webhooks can do by building a connector to automatically purchase PACER documents and save them to Google Drive whenever there is a new filing in a federal case.

It took me longer to write this blog post than it did to build the connector.

This demo uses a website called Zapier, which lets you stitch together hundreds of different APIs, including Google Drive and CourtListener. For example, you can use it send a tweet when it rains, turn on a smart light when you get home from work, save an event to your database when something else happens, etc — If you have two APIs, you can probably stitch them together to do interesting things.

Zapier flows always start with an event and then take an action. In this case, I created two Zapier flows.

  1. The first flow is triggered when CourtListener learns about a new filing in a case, and notifies Zapier by sending a webhook event about that filing. At that point, Zapier knows there's a new filing, but we don't have the PDF, so the flow purchases the PDF from PACER, using CourtListener's Fetch API.

When you turn this on, the PACER fees add up fast, but getting it set up couldn't be much easier. The flow looks like this:

A screenshot of the first flow on
A screenshot of the first flow on
  1. The second Zapier flow is triggered when CourtListener finishes purchasing the PDF from the first flow and sends another webhook event to Zapier saying so. At that point, Zapier downloads the newly-purchased document and saves it to Google Drive.

It's almost too easy. The second flow looks like this:

A screenshot of the second flow on
A screenshot of the second flow on

Altogether, the two flows have five simple steps that run whenever there are new filings in cases I'm following. It's really as simple as that, and of course you're not limited to Google Drive.

When it comes to automating your workflows, it's easy to do whatever you can imagine. You could save to Dropbox, build the webhooks into your internal filing system, use them to send an email, or do any number of other things.

Just be careful if you're automatically buying documents from PACER!

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