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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

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Business & Company Information: Sources & Strategies


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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. General tips, cont. • Start with the company website… • Especially the “About us,” “Investor relations,” and “Company history” sections • ...but do your own research, too.

    11. Earnings conference call

    12. News of potential legal interest

    13. 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

    14. Specific kinds of company information

    15. 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

    16. Finding Business Source Complete & Mergent

    17. Includes many scholarly business journals and useful profiles and reports

    18. Report is based mostly on SEC filings, but provides a quick executive summary.

    19. Another useful fee-based source for company info. (Find it the same way you’d find Business Source Complete.)

    20. Good for a quick overview Another cool feature: Variety of output options - simple “tear sheet” to complex customized reports.

    21. Different amounts of info, depending on your subscription

    22. “Westlaw Business,” an example of a fee-based source for securities filings Lots of search options

    23. 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

    24. Great for local/regional business news.

    25. Lots of cities/regions