I was deeply saddened to learn this week of the death of Lew Rose, a visionary in the early days of the internet who was one of the very first lawyers to create a website and who went on to an illustrious career in advertising and consumer law, capped by his six-year tenure as managing partner of the law firm Kelley Drye.

I once wrote a post about the first law firm to launch a website — a distinction I gave to Venable, which debuted its site in 1994. But one of the very first lawyers ever to have a website was Lew.

In 1994, as I wrote in 1996, Lew, then a partner at Arent Fox, “joined the 10 or so lawyers who had so far ventured onto the Web and created his Advertising Law Internet Site.” It was either the first or one of the first sites devoted to helping visitors understand an area of law.

As I went on to write: “At first, he did not tell his firm. Then, in February 1995, PC Computing’s first-ever listing of the top 100 Web sites rated his 16 — the only law firm on the list. Rose showed the review to his managing partner, who in turn had him make a presentation to the partnership. Soon, Rose was helping the firm develop its own site.”

As Arent Fox developed its own site, Lew was instrumental in developing a feature called Arent Fox InfoNet in which visitors to the site could participate alongside the firm’s lawyers in discussions about topics of law. You can still find that on the Internet Archive and see Lew’s posts in the advertising forum.

Lew moved to Kelley Drye in 2001 to head its advertising law practice. He became managing partner of its D.C. office in 2013 and then firmwide managing partner in 2015, retiring in 2019.

In 2022, Lew and his wife Jacqui donated $1 million to his alma mater, the University of Buffalo School of Law, to support clinical programs at the school that provide practical training for students in access to justice issues including civil rights, domestic violence, criminal justice, and more.

Of Lew, Kelley Drye said on its website:

“Lew was larger than life, and in his years as Managing Partner guided the firm with foresight and compassion. His impact on people was remarkable; he was a friend and mentor to many who sought his advice and guidance on professional and personal matters both.”

When they say he was larger than life, I can confirm that. I had the good fortune to know him both professionally and personally. Lew’s brother is one of my dearest friends.

He was only 66 and, by all accounts, still only starting a new phase of his life, post-retirement, fueled by his love of music and travel and fine dining. His loss is heartbreaking to so many.


Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.