As Thomson Reuters commemorates 150 years of customer partnership and innovation – since John B. West Publisher and Book Seller was founded in 1872 – Legal Current looks back at key moments in company history. Today Legal Current shares 10 innovation milestones from 1872 to 1998; watch tomorrow for highlights from 2000 to today.

  1. 1872 – John B. West Publisher and Book Seller is founded, beginning a legacy of close collaboration with customers to help lawyers research more efficiently.
  1. 1876 – West begins publishing The Syllabi, a weekly publication that served Minnesota lawyers’ need for a quick publication of excerpts of opinions from the courts.
  2. 1879 – West National Reporter System® is established, quickly becoming the most trusted source of information for legal practitioners.
  1. 1891 – The first edition of Black’s Law Dictionary is published. Black’s is considered one of the most valuable reference tools available to the legal community and became the most widely cited law book in the world.
  2. 1908 – West Key Number System is developed, a comprehensive indexing system to help attorneys quickly find relevant cases on a given legal issue. 
  1. 1927 – West indexes all U.S. laws and introduces the United States Code Annotated (USCA). The U.S. government commissioned two companies, West Publishing and Edward Thompson Co, to create an authentic and accurate compilation of U.S. law for the nation. The USCA is a comprehensive, up-to-date classification system that allows legal professionals to easily locate a relevant code section and receive prompt updates to stay informed of the most recent changes in the law.
  1. 1975 – Westlaw is computerized with the West Automated Law Terminal (WALT), culminating 10 years of research and development. WALT enabled legal researchers to quickly pinpoint the information needed, drastically reducing research time.
  1. 1993 – Westlaw is Natural (WIN), the first commercially available search engine, arrived. WIN recognizes natural English language search queries rather than requiring Boolean logic, simplifying legal search for lawyers.
  1. 1997 – Westlaw revolutionized citator research with the introduction of KeyCite. The electronic citation service quickly verifies whether a case, statute, regulation, or administrative decision is still good law, saving legal researchers time while helping them find, understand, and update the law.
  1. 1998 – New Westlaw.com is released as the first web-based version of Westlaw, making the product accessible to legal professionals from any internet browser instead of requiring installed software.

Check out more key moments in Thomson Reuters history, and watch Legal Current for more on the company’s traditions of innovation and customer collaboration.