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Introduction to Business Research for Paralegals: Home

Getting Started

Overview

The purpose of this guide is to introduce you to the basics of business research. Some of the resources included are free and some will require login with your NWACC user name and password. For more assistance please contact the NWACC library via chat, text, or email via the box immediately to the right.

 

Useful article: Matthew M. Morrison, Due Diligence: Company Information for Law Students, 108 Law Libr. J. 427 (2016), https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/llj108&i=421

Public Versus Private Companies

If a company is publicly-traded, it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and subject to numerous reporting and disclosure requirements. These filings are designed to:

  • Provide investors (both current and potential) with relevant information to make informed investment decisions, and
  • Ensure the integrity of the markets by making sure that those who have "insider" knowledge about a company are not taking advantage of it for their own benefit.

By contrast, privately-held companies are not subject to the SEC's reporting and disclosure requirements. As a result, it is usually more difficult to find information about privately-held companies.

Regardless of whether a company is publicly-traded or privately-held, remember to visit the company's website.

  • The About and Contact pages are where you can find information about the company's mission and values, corporate leadership, physical locations, and contact information.
  • The Investor Relations pages (for publicly-held companies) are where you may find more detailed information regarding the company’s financial performance, archived quarterly investor calls, corporate governance documents, and corporate reports (quarterly and annual). Many of these documents are also filed with the SEC and may be accessed using EDGAR (see related sections below).

Public companies will usually have more information available than private companies but it never hurts to check. 

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Gwen Dobbs
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Attribution

This guide was adapted, with permission, from the Harvard Law School Library's Company, Industry & Market Research.


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