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About Us – History

West, a Thomson Reuters business, has a global reputation for developing innovative products that meet law professionals’ needs. This dedication began more than 130 years ago, when two brothers opened John B. West, a storefront book publisher and bookstore. The business owners soon realized that their customers did not have an effective way to get current opinions from Minnesota courts. West responded in 1876 by publishing The Syllabi, a weekly publication that provided attorneys with court opinions at an unprecedented rate.


A year later, West revolutionized the legal market by developing the National Reporter System–the only collection of American case law to be editorially enhanced by experienced attorney editors. The National Reporter System is the foundation for products such as Westlaw and KeyCite, which have transformed how legal professionals use information. For over a century, the bench and bar have relied on West’s Key Number System to make legal research faster and easier. The comprehensive indexing tool divides the body of American law into more than 400 legal topics such as people, property, contracts and crimes. Each area is assigned a specific key number that quickly directs lawyers to specific points of the law. This landmark tool set the standard for the organization, presentation and delivery of legal information. While the country was celebrating its bicentennial, another innovation was taking place at West. Researchers were getting their first online glimpse into a trusted body of legal information known as Westlaw. The online tool has become one of the primary legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals.

With more than 23,000 databases of case law and statutes, Westlaw is the premier online research tool accessed by millions of users around the world. With an eye focused on its customers, West developed print-on-demand publishing to quickly provide customers with short-run, high-quality print products. In 2006, West introduced the first-ever short-run binding machine. Custom-made in Germany, the machine binds hard- and softbound books simultaneously and turns products around in record time. Since 1872, West has been a leader in innovation. With its headquarters in Eagan, Minn., West has earned a reputation for providing high-quality legal, regulatory and business information to legal professionals worldwide.

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