Librarians, researchers, and attorneys have come to love PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), the online database of federal pleadings. It's a terrific resource for those following cases or who need examples of real complaints or motions for summary judgment. When BloombergLaw came along, it made searching federal dockets even easier.
Alas, PACER has disabled online access to selected court records for several appellate courts, and commercial databases (i.e., Bloomberg, Westlaw, and Lexis) will only carry what they have downloaded. In other words, they are not a complete substitute.
For the latest updates on access, check out these excellent blog posts by librarians at the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library at UNC:
Changes to Online Access to Federal Court Records and What Happened to the Information Removed from PACER?