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  • 1. Business & Company Information: Sources & Strategies Research Refresher Laura M. Scott March 27, 2009
  • 2. 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
  • 3. Why research companies?
    • Marketing and business development
    • Conflicts checking
    • Litigation
    • Due diligence
    • Competitive intelligence: research other law firms
  • 4. Scope of factual research
    • Depends on:
      • reason for the research
      • time constraints
      • financial constraints
  • 5. 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
  • 6. Researching Companies
  • 7. 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
  • 8. 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
  • 9. Good example of a combination free and fee-based source.
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12. General tips, cont.
    • Start with the company website…
      • Especially the “About us,” “Investor relations,” and “Company history” sections
      • ...but do your own research, too.
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15.  
  • 16.  
  • 17.  
  • 18.  
  • 19. Earnings conference call
  • 20. News of potential legal interest
  • 21.  
  • 22.  
  • 23.  
  • 24. 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
  • 25. Specific kinds of company information
  • 26. 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
  • 27. Finding Business Source Complete & Mergent
  • 28.  
  • 29. Includes many scholarly business journals and useful profiles and reports
  • 30.  
  • 31. Report is based mostly on SEC filings, but provides a quick executive summary.
  • 32. Another useful fee-based source for company info. (Find it the same way you’d find Business Source Complete.)
  • 33.  
  • 34. Good for a quick overview Another cool feature: Variety of output options - simple “tear sheet” to complex customized reports.
  • 35.  
  • 36. Different amounts of info, depending on your subscription
  • 37.  
  • 38.  
  • 39. Lots of search options “Westlaw Business,” an example of a fee-based source for securities filings
  • 40.  
  • 41.  
  • 42.  
  • 43.  
  • 44.  
  • 45.  
  • 46.  
  • 47.  
  • 48. 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
  • 49. Great for local/regional business news.
  • 50. Lots of cities/regions
  • 51.  
  • 52.  
  • 53.  
  • 54. Corporate structure
    • Family trees/subsidiaries
    • Why?
      • Conflicts checking
      • Marketing
      • Due diligence
    • Tools:
      • SEC Form 10-K, Ex. 21
      • Directory of Corporate Affiliations (Lexis)
      • Dun & Bradstreet Family Tree Finder
      • Mergent Online
      • Industry-specific sources
        • e.g., Best’s Company Reports (insurance/reinsurance)
  • 55.  
  • 56. Public company, simple research task: use free SEC filings
  • 57.  
  • 58.  
  • 59. List of exhibits to 10-K
  • 60. List of subsidiaries is always in the same exhibit
  • 61.  
  • 62. Private company: May have to use a fee-based source
  • 63. Corporate family tree, useful formatting.
  • 64. Bonus: Nice private company report
  • 65.  
  • 66.  
  • 67.  
  • 68. Not much financial data
  • 69. Important people
    • Identification and biographical information about officers, directors, insiders, general counsel
    • Why?
      • Marketing – do we know someone at this company?
    • Tools:
      • Company website (“About us”)
      • SEC filings (public) – 10-K, among others
      • Private company reports
        • e.g., Dun & Bradstreet
      • Secretary of State (sometimes)
  • 70. Dun & Bradstreet Too small for private company reports on Lexis or Business Source Complete Range of reports $-$$$$$
  • 71.  
  • 72.  
  • 73. State of Incorporation
    • Not always the same as corporate HQ location
    • Why do you need to know?
      • Often stated in complaints
      • Diversity jurisdiction
    • Tools:
      • Public companies: Cover sheet of SEC filings
      • Private companies: Secretary of State
        • Free
        • Fee-based source: ( CTAdvantage.com )
  • 74. Again, free is fine for this task…
  • 75. … and fine here, too.
  • 76. Registered agent
    • a.k.a. “agent for service of process”
    • Why?
      • Serve papers
    • Tools:
      • Secretary of State
      • CT Corp. ( CTAdvantage.com )
  • 77.  
  • 78. Corporate documents
    • Company by-laws, articles of incorp.
    • Why?
      • Amendment of by-laws, etc.
      • Due diligence
    • Tools:
      • Public companies:
        • SEC filings - 10-K Ex. 3
        • Old filings - commercial SEC sources
      • Private companies: Secretary of State
  • 79.  
  • 80.  
  • 81.  
  • 82.  
  • 83.  
  • 84. Financial data
    • Why?
      • Due diligence
      • Is this party judgment-proof?
    • Tools:
      • Public companies: SEC filings (10-K audited, 10-Q unaudited)
      • Private companies: Dun & Bradstreet Business Information Reports
  • 85. Legal agreements
    • Why?
      • Due diligence – Existing contracts might affect your deal.
      • Forms for other deals
    • Tools:
      • Exhibits to 10-Ks and 10-Qs
        • Use a fee-based service
  • 86. Recent or ongoing legal activity
    • Litigation, labor disputes, recent deals, environmental issues, real estate transactions, permitting issues
    • Why?
      • Due diligence
      • Marketing
    • Tools:
      • SEC Filings - 10-Q or 10-K “Legal proceedings” section (“material” litigation only); recent 8-Ks
      • News searches
      • Case and docket searches
  • 87. Other law firms representing them
    • Why?
      • Marketing
      • Competitive intelligence
    • Tools:
      • SEC Filings – ‘33 Act “S” forms, sometimes 8-Ks
      • Courtlink Strategic Profiles
      • Case & docket searches
      • Surveys (ALM & local legal press)
  • 88. Courtlink Strategic Profiles
  • 89. Federal courts and some state courts
  • 90.  
  • 91.  
  • 92.  
  • 93. AIG’s outside counsel in federal civil cases for 1st Q 2009
  • 94. Formatting options
  • 95.  
  • 96. American Lawyer Media
  • 97. Must subscribe for full report and data
  • 98. Similar kind of survey at the local/regional level
  • 99.  
  • 100.  
  • 101. Historical stock prices
    • Why?
      • Litigation
    • Tools
      • Free sources
        • WSJ/Big Charts
        • Yahoo! Finance
        • Google Finance
      • Fee-based sources
        • Lexis, Westlaw, some fee-based SEC databases
        • Use for: additional data, older prices, delisted companies
  • 102.  
  • 103.  
  • 104.  
  • 105.  
  • 106. Questions?