Business and corporate research is locating information about companies, their financial health (including assets, liabilities, and cash flow), business plans, market value, leverage, and leadership. Information about companies in the United States that meet the filing thresholds for the SEC is easy to find. The SEC requires certain companies that sell securities to the public to file quarterly and annual reports with detailed financial information through its EDGAR filing system plus other reports when required by triggering events. Privately-held companies and companies that meet the requirements to sell their securities under certain exemptions do not have to file financial statements with the SEC, and information about these companies can be difficult to locate. These companies are usually owned by the founder(s), the founder's friends and family members, and private investors.
When do attorneys need to conduct research about a company? Attorneys may research companies as part of due diligence or a merger or acquisition, and to conduct a business valuation for a divorce or an estate. Attorneys often research companies when interviewing for a position in a corporate legal department and for business development, locating potential clients to target or in responding to a company's request for proposal (RFP) for legal work.
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