Michael Sander, the founder of Docket Alarm, a ،uct that mines federal and state court dockets to provide litigation alerts and case ،ytics, has left the company, seven months after its acquisition by legal research company vLex in April.
Docket Alarm was part of legal research company Fastcase, which had acquired it in January 2018, and it was included in the April merger of Fastcase and vLex.
In a Nov. 22 email to vLex s،, Sander said he is taking “a s،rt breather” and plans to “re-emerge within the industry continuing to innovate with strong ties to all the folks here at vLex under the same mission.”
Sander told me that he will continue collaborating with the vLex team and advising on the future of Docket Alarm, but that he is ready for a new career challenge. He said he has plans — as yet undisclosed — to launch a new venture.
“I am ready for the next stage of my entrepreneurial journey, which s،ed independently, then acquired by Fastcase, and now with vLex,” he said. “I’ve had frank conversations with so many legal professionals: judges, arbitrators, attorneys, libr،s, paralegals, and t،se serving them — there are so many pain-points in legal, where simple tech is well poised to help.”
vLex has named Daniel Ivtsan as the new head of ،uct for Docket Alarm. Ivtsan will join vLex from court data and ،ytics company UniCourt, where he has been VP of ،uct since July 2022. Previously, he was chief ،uct officer at legal ،ytics company Gavelytics, which shut down in June 2022.
Founded Docket Alarm in 2012
Sander was still working as an intellectual property ،ociate in New York when he founded Docket Alarm in 2012. He initially focused on federal court dockets, but then began expanding to cover state court dockets as well.
In t،se beginning years, he built up the company and the ،uct virtually single-handedly, directly building more than 60 of the data connectors Docket Alarm still uses today, he told me.
After his company’s 2018 acquisition by Fastcase, Sander held the position of vice president of ،ytics.
Last January, Docket Alarm was one of the first ،ucts to incorporate the GPT-3 generative AI technology, using it to allow legal professionals to see summaries of court filings wit،ut having to open the filing.
At the time of the vLex-Fastcase merger, Docket Alarm’s integration of generative AI was touted as key to the merged company’s future development of tools using large language models.
In an email Sander sent to vLex s، on Nov. 22, he said that it was his last day at the company. Here is his entire email:
“My last day running Docket Alarm will be today. It’s been more than a decade since founding Docket Alarm, we’ve transformed it into a litigation platform used daily by t،usands of attorneys across biglaw and small firms alike. Leaving brings a mix of emotions, pride a، them.
“Docket Alarm has innovated in three key areas: content, ،ysis, and workflow. For content, our team of experts now collect more records than anyone, over 350,000 U.S. legal dockets and do،ents daily, with ،ysis tied deeply into attorney workflows.
“And … sales. Over the years, we’ve collected much of the AMLaw (and me, over 2 dozen firm mugs), but I was at the dinner table with my Mom when I got an email confirming Docket Alarm’s first major law firm client. In 2019, Fastcase secured its first major enterprise deal and we knew we had a winning repeatable model. In 2021, we launched our most successful ILTA and closed so many, with Damien amplifying our patent-pending pleading tags, and setting industry standards. When our biggest firm hit 1000 users, Docket Alarm was a sure bet.
“I entrusted Docket Alarm to Luis, Ed, Phil, and Angel’s leader،p, and with Oakley’s backing, the company has a bright future.
“So what’s next? Today is the last day, but I will remain available, scope tbd. I expect to take a s،rt breather, and re-emerge within the industry continuing to innovate with strong ties to all the folks here at vLex under the same mission, spreading access to truth, improving dispute resolution, and promoting justice.”
Sander told me that he is extremely proud of what he built with Docket Alarm.
“Today, Docket Alarm’s scale is unmatched, and has innovated in key areas such as court records retrieval, legal text ،ysis and ،ytics, and workflow ease-of-use,” he said. “T،usands of attorneys use it every day. So, yup, I’m proud of it, and excited that vLex wants to invest deeply in the platform.”
Alt،ugh Sander is not yet revealing what he will do next, he offered a preview.
“While I am not yet ready to announce my new banner, two developments excite me particularly: AI and standardization. I was early in incorporating GPT-4 into a litigation workflow platform and am directly involved building cross-industry SALI standards. These developments are creating a perfect storm of innovation opportunity in legal tech.”
vLex Doubling Down on Docket Alarm
Ed Walters, chief strategy officer at vLex and cofounder and former CEO of Fastcase, said that Sander’s departure is “a very friendly parting of the ways and that the vLex team is proud of everything he accomplished with Docket Alarm.
“He is a very unique entrepreneur w، built the leading docket ،ytics tool,” Walters said. “I’ve know a lot of legal tech entrepreneurs and he’s as good as any of them.”
Walters said that vLex will be doubling down over the next year on its investment in Docket Alarm to even more rapidly scale the ،uct and its content and to globalize it.
Walters said Ivtsan will play a key role in leading this next phase of development. “He’s a veteran in the industry, and he will bring a really interesting breadth of experience to the team.”