Blast from the Past: When the WSBA First Went Online 25 Years Ago

Screen shot from WSBA's first website

In 1996, “Macarena” was topping the charts, Japanese consumers became the first to purchase a new video format called DVDs, Independence Day blew up both U.S. landmarks and box offices, and the WSBA officially entered cyberspace.

Recently, a member of the WSBA Communications Department was searching through old issues of Washington State Bar News and happened upon the following article which details the WSBA’s first website that went live 25 years ago this year.

In the January 1996 issue, then WSBA Executive Director Dennis P. Harwick formally unveiled the first WSBA website, which you can see in its mid-90s splendor via the Wayback Machine. It’s hard to imagine how we could have explained to people then how completely indispensable the internet would become 25 years later, particularly over the last year during the pandemic.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane to the WSBA’s first trip on the information superhighway.

The WSBA Joins the Internet

Happy new year!

What better time for the WSBA to join the Internet with its own Web site? Actually, the WSBA Web site (or “home page”) has been “under construction” (to use an Internet term) since last fall. It was unveiled at the Board of Governors meeting on December 1, 1995, then featured at the WSBA CLE “Internet and the Law” on December 6.

Part of the delay in unveiling the WSBA Web site was making sure that we got the perfect Internet address, which is: In the interim, the Web site has been living at I can’t go any further without giving credit to two unpaid volunteers whose expertise and labors made the WSBA Web site possible: Sam Foucault (a WSBA member) and James Cameron. Sam and James are affiliated with Northwest Lawyer, an Internet provider to the legal community.

Although the potential uses of the Internet are myriad, the WSBA Web site has two principal purposes at this time: information and communications.

Information: The WSBA Web site is loaded with information for both WSBA members and for the public. WSBA members can find a listing of upcoming WSBA CLEs, a summary of MCLE requirements, a list of the Board of Governors, annual licensing information, summaries of the WSBA Sections, a breakdown of WSBA membership counts by county, and a list of WSBA member services – to name just a few. Members of the public can learn about the WSBA, find out the requirements for taking the bar exam, and get details on filing grievances against lawyers who violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.

No Web site would be complete without a set of FAQs (frequently asked questions). We have a 21-item list that includes lawyer referral services, access to LAW BBS, and the telephone number for the legislative hotline.

Communication: The WSBA Web site provides another vehicle for communicating with the WSBA staff. We will develop an e-mail address for the WSBA itself (you can email me directly at I know that only a fraction of the WSBA membership currently uses external e-mail, but the number is growing. For example, WSBA President Ed Shea (ED and I conduct much of our day to day business by e-mail.

What the WSBA Web Site is Not: It is not a research vehicle. There are lots of commercial providers (LEXIS, Westlaw, etc.) who provide on-line legal research. You will find lots of law school and law libraries on the Internet. You will find volumes of useful information on the WSBA’ s own L.A.W. BBS service. Consequently, we did not duplicate the research data bases here. At this point, we are not even ready for on-line CLE registrations, annual licensing, or publication sales – but give us time.

What I do know is that the WSBA hit the Internet with the most extensive information of any state bar association (we are approximately the 4th or 5th state bar with a Web site, depending on what you count as a Web site). I know that our Web site will evolve to better serve both members and the public. Let me know what you think about our Web site!