Today we mourn the passing of a giant in the law and publishing, and celebrate a life well-lived.

Dwight D. Opperman, former CEO of West Publishing Company, passed away the morning of June 13. He was a brilliant, thoughtful leader who valued the legal profession as his career choice, and also harbored a life-long commitment to supporting the bench and bar, and the rule of law.

In 1951, Opperman began his West Publishing career as an attorney-editor writing headnotes and synopses. He swiftly moved up the ranks to become president in 1968. His served as CEO until the sale of West Publishing Company to The Thomson Company in 1996. Opperman is best known as the person who “green-lighted” the development of Westlaw, moving the publishing company into the digital age as one of the first online research and information companies. During his tenure in leadership, the company developed Westlaw and continued the company’s long legacy of content and technology innovation.

DwightOppermanPaintingHe relished opportunities to visit with customers, attending AALL and ABA Annual Meetings, and welcomed delegations from China, Poland and countries within Africa who were working to establish a system of justice modeled on the U.S. legal system and emulate the West Publishing system of collecting, classifying and reporting the law. In his retirement he generously supported his alma mater, Drake University Law School; the Library of Congress; the American Judicature Society; and the Supreme Court Historical Society.

The employees of Thomson Reuters mourn the passing of Dwight D. Opperman, and we send our condolences to the Opperman family, which includes his sons Fane and Vance Opperman, former West Publishing Company president and current Thomson Reuters board member.


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