Law Reporting and Legal Publishing 1872
John Briggs West (1852–1922)
West began working as a salesperson for the D.D. Merrill Book Store in Saint Paul, Minnesota, when he was 18 years old. He was neither a lawyer nor a college graduate. The store carried law books among other things, and West learned about frontier attorneys’ discontent with the quality and availability of legal materials. West started his own company as “John B. West, Publisher and Book Seller” in 1872, reprinting legal treatises, publishing legal forms, and providing a much-appreciated index to Minnesota legislation.
In 1899, he unexpectedly departed the West Publishing Company and founded the Keefe-Davidson Law Book Company, making derogatory remarks about the West key-number digest method in the process. However, his new company lost a significant case within a decade and went out of business. He moved to southern California after retiring.