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Bob Ambrogi Identifies the First Law Firm to Launch a Website

Legal Internet historian/law blog pioneer/lawyer/consultant/former Legal Blog Watch writer Bob Ambrogi posted an interesting question on his LawSites blog last week: Which law firm of more than 25 lawyers was the first to launch a website and when?

On Tuesday, Ambrogi revealed the answer: Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti (now known simply as Venable LLP), in March 1994. In support of his answer, Ambrogi offers three pieces of evidence:

1. An article he wrote on his trailblazing "legal.online" column back in August 1995 that identified Venable as the first law firm to establish a Web page;

2. Venable's registration of the Venable.com domain name on March 5, 1994 and logs showing Web traffic to that site as far back as June 12, 1994; and

3. An April 1994 article in The Baltimore Sun (miraculously still available online 18 years later) discussing Venable's new "electronic shingle" on the "far-flung network of computer networks" that went live in mid-March 1994. The article cites a Venable lawyer who said that Venable was the "first law firm with direct access to the Internet and the first to publish there under its own name."

Ambrogi notes:

As context, consider that the concept of the Web as an Internet service had just been introduced in 1991 and the first photo on the Web was uploaded in 1992. When Venable launched its site in 1994, no one knew quite what to make of the Web or could anticipate what it would become.

One other law firm -- the now-defunct Heller Ehrman -- also appears to have at least a claim to the title of first law firm website. The firm's Wikipedia page as well as a cached version of its own website claims that in 1994, "Heller Ehrman launched the first law firm website." Ambrogi, however, says he can find nothing to corroborate this claim, and nothing that provides the specific date in 1994 when Heller launched the website.

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 11, 2012 at 04:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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