The BANKS-BALDWIN LAW PUBLISHING CO., located in Cleveland since 1932, is the oldest law publishing house in the U.S. David Banks established the firm of Gould & Banks in New York in 1804 in order to publish law books that would be less expensive than those imported from England. After Banks's death in 1871, his sons continued the business as Banks & Bros., but in 1880 two sons divided the company. David Banks, Jr. maintained the New York firm as Banks Law Publishing.
The Cleveland connection began when Wm. E. Baldwin established the Baldwin Law Publishing Co. in 1919. The major work of his new company was its first edition of the Ohio Code, published in 1921. In 1924, while continuing to operate his Ohio company, Baldwin moved to New York, where he was employed by the Banks Co. as its president. Two years later he purchased the firm from the Banks family, and in 1933 he consolidated his companies, merging them to form Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Co., with corporate offices at 3730 Euclid Ave. In 1941 the company moved to 1904 Ansel Rd. and during the decades of the 1970s and 1980s, acquired adjacent buildings in the UNIV. CIRCLE area. The company was slated to move to 6111 Oak Tree Blvd. in INDEPENDENCE in the fall of 1995.
In addition to publishing Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated and statutes of other states, Banks-Baldwin publishes a complete line of practice books for attorneys and other professionals. In recent years the company has expanded into electronic publishing, offering its codes on CD-ROM and legal forms on diskette. Baldwin himself held copyrights to 500 books he had authored or edited. He remained president of Banks-Baldwin until 1960 when he became chairman and Walter H. Drane took over as president. By 1993 the company merged with West Publishing of Eagan, Minnesota, the nation's premier legal publisher. Between them the two privately held companies had more than 300 years of legal publishing experience. In 1996, the two publishers merged with the other legal publishing divisions of the Thomson Corp to form the West Group.
Banks-Baldwin has long been an innovator in legal information product development. The company established computer databases for its publications in the early 1970s; established the first monthly session law service in 1971; published the only Approved Edition of the Ohio Administrative Code in 1977; provided access to Ohio unreported appellate cases beginning in 1981; launched new product lines for handbooks, journals, and newsletters throughout the 1980s; licensed its publications for online search and retrieval in 1985; and pioneered the development of CD-ROM products for the legal market beginning in 1988.
After the formation of the West Group in 1996, the company donated the building and property that served as the Banks-Baldwin offices on Ansel road to the CLEVELAND SIGHT CENTER. Working in conjunction with the DUNHAM TAVERN MUSEUM and the CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN, the original two story wooden house (constructed in 1868) was moved to the Dunham Tavern Museum property to serve as an educational center and office space for the Cleveland Botanical Garden's existing outreach and community gardening program.