Competitive intelligence tool review: CourtListener

CourtListener is a simple service designed on a shoestring by Michael Lissner. This is a good attempt at an aggregator and alert tool for US judicial decisions. The database currently holds just under 200,000 documents. Court records are rarely called for in competitive intelligence projects, but when they are it can be quite labour intensive to be completely thorough.

As an example from CourListener, here are the records that it displays for Pfizer.

Aside from CourtListener, finding all the court cases that involve a particular company (or company executives) often involves manual searching across multiple databases (for example individualcourt records). This is particularly the case in a country like the US, where individual state courts may need to be checked. In many cases physicalattendance at the courts in question is necessary. That may involve travel or, more likely, use of freelancers in each state who specialize in providing copies of local court records.

In some countries, there is a semi-automated central database, for example TrustOnline for the UK. TrustOnline is a commercial venture with 'official' sanction, but such information may also be accessible on purely commercial basis (e.g. from Intelius). In other countries, there is no easy centralized database of court decisions - certainly there is no Google for court judgments around the world. There are some directories that list public records databases around the world, such as this one, often with a genealogical focus or background checking focus.

So CourtListener is a welcome competitive intelligence tool, and impressive given it is the part-time work of one individual.

CourtListener scores

Usefulness: 5/10

Ease of use: 7/10

Comprehensiveness: 6/10

Overall score: 5/10