Business & Company Information: Sources & Strategies Research Refresher Laura M. Scott March 27, 2009
Goals for today • Cover the basics of company research in law practice • Strategies and favorite sources • Provide examples of available online tools and their features • Discuss the kinds of information you can (and can’t) expect to find
Why research companies? • Marketing and business development • Conflicts checking • Litigation • Due diligence • Competitive intelligence: research other law firms
Scope of factual research • Depends on: • reason for the research • time constraints • financial constraints
Internet research tools • Free & fee-based tools • Some free tools require registration • Some free partial access • Lots of fee-based (per search & subscription) sources • Don’t forget outside resources • e.g., Local public and university business libraries, government libraries, private subscription libraries
Scenario • You’re preparing to visit a potential corporate client. What do you want to know? • Info about the people you’re meeting with • Info about the company’s business • Any recent legal issues they’ve had • Their competitors • Trends in their industry
General tips for company research • Know whether the company is public or private. • Kinds & sources of info may differ • Public - SEC filings • Private - D&B, other private company reports, Secretary of State’s office • What if you don’t know? • Try Hoover’s
General tips, cont. • Start with the company website… • Especially the “About us,” “Investor relations,” and “Company history” sections • ...but do your own research, too.
General tips, cont. • Consider whether a fee-based source would add value to your research. • Save time • The only source? • Nicely formatted output • Support • Better search and navigation functionality
General background • Company info, general industry info and competitors • Why? • Marketing & good client service – important to understand client’s business. • Sources (examples): • SEC filings and annual reports to shareholders • Industry-specific journals • Company reports • Hoover’s • Business Source Complete (Datamonitor company reports; industry journals; market reports) • Mergent Online • Bloomberg, Lexis, and Westlaw • Yahoo! Finance
Includes many scholarly business journals and useful profiles and reports
Report is based mostly on SEC filings, but provides a quick executive summary.
Another useful fee-based source for company info. (Find it the same way you’d find Business Source Complete.)
Good for a quick overview Another cool feature: Variety of output options - simple “tear sheet” to complex customized reports.
Different amounts of info, depending on your subscription
“Westlaw Business,” an example of a fee-based source for securities filings Lots of search options
Business & Legal News • News about the company, including management changes, legal issues, trends affecting its industry • Why? – Understand the client’s business and industry and potential legal needs • Sources • LexisNexis (or Westlaw) • Bloomberg • Business journals (e.g., WSJ.com,) • Local/regional business newspapers • e.g., Bizjournals.com • Industry-specific trade journals • Try Business Source Complete or Dialog
Great for local/regional business news.