Our History

In 2011, the new BLR®—Business & Legal Resources was born from the merger of Business & Legal Reports of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, and M. Lee Smith Publishers of Nashville, Tennessee, two highly respected publishers with strong brand recognition and reputations. Since the mid-1970s, both organizations have provided legal and regulatory compliance information products and services to U.S. employers.

Today, the new BLR serves customers in six functional areas:

HR and Employment Law
Online Training
Compensation and Benefits
Workplace Safety
Environmental Compliance
Legal and Politics

... through four divisions:

BLR —HR and Employment Law, Online Training, Compensation and Benefits, Workplace Safety, Environmental Compliance
HR Hero —HR and Employment Law Compliance Services, Products and Events
California Employer Resources —Compliance Products, Services and Events for Businesses with Employees in California
M. Lee Smith Publishers —Legal and Politics Information Services, Products and CLE


History of the Premerger Companies

Business & Legal Reports

BLR was founded in 1977 by Robert L. Brady with a mission to provide executives and decision makers with reliable, easy-to-understand analysis of the ever-increasing and complex state and federal laws.

In 1978, Brady launched his first newsletter, Personnel Manager's Legal Reporter. The Personnel Manager's Legal Reporter became the leading tool for non-lawyers to understand employment legal issues in plain, easy-to-understand English.

In 1984, BLR introduced a line of state-law compliance looseleaf books—beginning with What to do About Personnel Problems in New York State.  These award-winning books are benchmark tools delivering detailed, state-based, actionable information to HR, compliance, safety, and environmental practitioners worldwide. These include:

Our award-winning line of training solutions started in 1997 with our still-popular, 7-Minute Safety Trainer. This line has expanded to live webinars, videos, DVDs, and PowerPoint® presentations and today includes titles such as:

BLR launched its Web-based business in 1998. First launching our online catalog and then each of our award-winning compliance portals:

In 2000, the company launched a website that was both fun and informative—the HR Challenge. That was so popular, we launched a few more. These have grown into award-winning and industry-leading resources that professionals depend on each and every day. Today these websites include:

In 2001, BLR acquired California Employer Resources (formerly known as the Employer Resource Institute). Today, it's the leading provider of award-winning compliance information services for California employers.

In 2004, BLR launched Web-based applications such as the Job Description Manager. All of our Web-based applications are available individually or as part of our compliance portals. Current on-demand applications include:

In 2007, BLR launched Custom Solution Services, providing tailored versions of BLR solutions for large organizations worldwide. Our CSS line helps leading organizations meet compliance obligations and manage risk, includuing three of the top five insurance brokerages in the United States.

In 2008, BLR brought its industry-leading training solution online, launching the BLR Employee Training Center. It was voted Best Workforce Training Solution in the 2009 SIIA CODiE Awards.



M. Lee Smith Publishers

M. Lee Smith Publishers was founded by M. Lee Smith in 1975. A graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, Smith clerked for federal judge William E. Miller before serving as legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN). After involvement in the successful Tennessee gubernatorial campaign of Winfield Dunn, Smith spent 4 years as the governor's executive assistant.

In 1975, Smith turned his interest in politics and law into a publishing company. Smith's first subscription newsletter was the Tennessee Journal, a weekly insider's guide to Tennessee government, politics, and business. The Journal still provides the state's most influential politicians and business leaders with decision-making intelligence.

Next, Smith published Tennessee Attorneys Memo, a weekly summary of appellate court decisions. This was followed by other directories, manuals, and newsletters for the legal community.

In the mid-1980s, Smith recognized the increasing impact of state legislatures and courts on how businesses operate. To help corporate executives and human resources professionals comply, he launched a series of state Employment Law Letters, eventually establishing one in every state.

To create this wealth of legal information, M. Lee Smith Publishers founded the Employers Counsel Network (ECN), an affiliation of select, top-level law firms in all 50 states; Washington, D.C. and Canada. Network attorneys represent employers in workplace issues and disputes. Many of them also speak at our conferences and are featured in our supervisor and employee training videos on employment law. The company also works with other source experts to provide top-notch management information products and services.

For 17 years, our annual Advanced Employment Issues Symposium has been the premier employment law compliance conference for human resources professionals, employers, and counsel.

In November 2003, Dan Oswald, a 15-year publishing veteran, joined M. Lee Smith Publishers as president and publisher. His focus on growing the company into a diversified information provider to the human resources and legal audiences led to the development of 1-day state-specific employment law seminars, new audio and web-based training events, and a number of new newsletters, books, and manuals.

In 2008, the company launched the subscription-based employment law information website, HRLaws.com. In 2009, M. Lee Smith Publishers began providing online training for supervisors and employees directly to the desktop via the Training Today platform.

With the merger of M. Lee Smith Publishers and BLR, Oswald took on the role of CEO. In addition to running the business, Oswald writes a weekly blog about business and CEO concerns titled the Oswald Letter. He also can be found on Twitter at @oswaldletter.