When The Legal Intelligencer began in 1843, its immediate purpose was to be of service to the bench and bar, mostly in the form of the publishing of legal notices, abstracts of real estate to be sold to the sheriff and notices to attorneys.
From the very start, the goal was to aid the legal community. And, yet, from its very modest beginning, The Legal has constantly adapted, evolved and strived to improve on what it can do.
After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, he was eulogized by members of the legal community in the pages of the newspaper. When attorneys such as Bernard Segal were pushing for civil rights, they did so in the pages of The Legal. Later, the paper beefed up its editorial staff and began writing news stories on court decisions, verdicts and other news important to the legal community.
Over time, the paper’s focus shifted beyond just Philadelphia to include the entire state of Pennsylvania. As law firms grew into national and international behemoths generating hundreds of millions — and in some cases, billions — in revenue, the paper began to aggressively cover what firms were doing all over the world, digging into the trends that help some firms achieve great success and spelling doom for others.
The Legal gradually became a newspaper that was no longer part of the establishment, but an instrument to challenge the status quo. Our investigative reporting has uncovered problems and corruption in the state’s legal system. Our columns and editorials have pointed out injustices and called for change. Our enterprise reporting has highlighted inequalities in the legal community.
While very much an institution, The Legal has not been content to hold up a mirror to the Pennsylvania legal community and simply say, "Everything is OK."
Throughout the decades, despite the changes, The Legal has remained faithful to the lawyers, judges and other legal professionals who read it. The goal is still the same: to serve our readers, to help them in their practice, identify problems for them to be aware of and to offer solutions.
My hope is that when you read this special magazine, you’ll have a greater appreciation for where we’ve come from and where we’re headed.
But I also hope that you realize it is very much a love letter to the legal community, one we’re happy to serve. It is because of you, our readers, that we’ve endured and thrived for 170 years. It is because of our readers that we’re motivated to keep improving and excited for the future that lies ahead.