Teaching with PACER: Improving Understanding by Harnessing Transparency

6 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2012 Last revised: 21 Aug 2014

See all articles by George W. Kuney

George W. Kuney

University of Tennessee College of Law; Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law

Date Written: July 1, 2012

Abstract

The article discusses teaching law school courses with the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system and both student and instructor e-writing projects relating to that system.

The case method of instruction in its classic form does not capture the context and intricacies of bankruptcy practice, especially in United States Chapter 11 cases. What is often missing is the rich compilation of detail found in the mountain of filings that is a Chapter 11 case, whether large or small. These details often evidence the shifting loyalties, relationships, interests, and emotions of the participants. These dynamics are largely lost in even trial court decisions in the case, much less appellate opinions.

With the advent of national federal court adoption of the PACER system throughout the United States, however, a new resource for teaching has arrived. Over the last several years, I have been teaching Chapter 11 seminars that augment a text with a research project that uses PACER (or a similar service available in some large cases from the claims agents in the case) to provide access to the docket and substantially all the pleadings and other documents in the case. This research project allows students to research the background of the debtor company, examine what led it to seek relief under Chapter 11, and to follow the case to conclusion, through all its twists and turns, even if there are no appeals. Student reaction has been positive.

Keywords: teaching, PACER, Public Access to Court Electronic Records

Suggested Citation

Kuney, George W., Teaching with PACER: Improving Understanding by Harnessing Transparency (July 1, 2012). University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 188. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2097063 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2097063

George W. Kuney (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States
865-974-2500 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utk.edu/faculty/kuney/index.shtml

Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law ( email )

The Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utk.edu/faculty/kuney/index.shtml

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