January 22, 2022

Westlaw’s Founder Dwight Opperman Has Died

From the WSJ:

Dwight Opperman was founder of Westlaw, the online research tool used throughout the legal profession.

Mr. Opperman, who died Thursday at age 89, was the longtime chief executive of West Publishing Co., an Eagan, Minn., legal publisher founded in the 1870s as a newspaper of regional court opinions.It was Mr. Opperman who, starting in the 1970s, started digitizing the venerable West volumes, vastly increasing their reach and usability. Closely held West Publishing was sold to Thomson Corp. in 1996 for $3.4 billion.


Around the time that Mead Data Central Inc. was developing its competing Lexis-Nexis service, Mr. Opperman led West’s development of the dial-up Westlaw service. Westlaw was introduced in 1975, but growth was slow at first.

“The guy I put in charge of Westlaw came in, after he’d been there maybe a year, and said they’d studied it and their recommendation was to go back to our core business,” Mr. Opperman said in the Super Lawyers interview.

But Westlaw gained steam as personal computers and, later, the Internet exploded in the 1980s and 1990s.

Read the Complete Obit (via WSJ)

See Also: Dwight Opperman, former West Publishing chief, dies at 89 (via Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN)

See Also: Former West Publishing CEO Dwight Opperman dies at 89 (via Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.