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
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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.