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Mastering the Maze of Business Filings: Corporate Research Tools for Paralegals [by Ursula Furi-Perry] In a complex and ever-changing corporate world, it is essential for paralegals to master corporate research tasks and tools. “There are so many corporate research resources available,” said Cheryl Tindle, in-house corporate paralegal at Skyworks, Inc. “Paralegals must understand where to get these resources and how to apply them.”

Indeed, some corporate tasks may be better

said Dem Hopkins, attorney, associate writer,

accountants, and professionals,” Mr. Hopkins

suited for able paralegals than busy at-

and analyst at CCH Inc. “The websites often

said. “They often have great advice about

torneys. “The tasks of tracking compliance

house links to statutes and codes, as well as

hypotheticals from knowledgeable sources.”

information, downloading domestic filing

background information about entities and

Networking at relevant seminars may also

forms, getting financial statements, keep-

filings.” When turning to statutory research,

prove resourceful. “Benchmarking with

ing up with foreign subsidiaries, and even

be sure to cross-reference information be-

colleagues is important,” Ms. Tindle said. “I

setting up foreign entities can all be done by

tween different sections, experts say. “Some

went to several seminars when I first started

paralegals,” Ms. Tindle said. “Things change

Secretaries of States, for example, provide

corporate work and found them very useful.”

daily (in the corporate sector), and attorneys

no information on taxes,” said Mr. Hopkins.

can be bogged down with the day-to-day

“(Paralegals should) be sure to cross-refer-

The corporate paralegal’s job doesn’t end

responsibilities. It’s often up to the paralegal

ence (with their Departments of Revenue).”

when his or her research is completed; paralegals also have to know how to present

to stay on top of changes.” Of course, even the most able corporate

their findings to attorneys, supervisors, or

Fortunately, the Internet makes things eas-

paralegal may get lost in the database maze.

even clients. For example, mastering the art

ier. “Almost everything is available online,”

“It’s not the easiest to navigate,” Mr. Pinck-

of the legal memorandum or verbal research

Ms. Tindle said. Start with the Securities and

ert said. Consider turning to special research

presentation may be essential. In addition,

Exchange Commission’s website; paralegals

software and sites. “Paid research sites often

corporate paralegals must be able to handle

involved with corporate or financial informa-

offer complimentary training, and taking

the maintenance of internal databases.

tion should be well-versed in EDGAR, the

advantage of them can increase the effec-

“Document management and the upkeep of

electronic database of SEC filings. “Those

tiveness of a paralegal’s use of these tools,”

databases are extremely important,” stated

who deal with SEC filings must master ED-

advised Mr. Pinckert. “Our programs make

Ms. Tindle. Paralegals are often in charge

GAR,” said Eric Pinckert, Head of Corporate

it easier to use EDGAR and lay out informa-

of updating and keeping track of corporate

Affairs at LRN, a legal research firm that

tion so it makes sense,” said Deb Doane, Vice

filings, securities documents, annual and

provides corporate clients with a network of

President of Product Marketing at EDGAR

quarterly reports, and contracts.

research experts. “In fact, the SEC requires

Online, the company that markets Edgar

EDGAR to be used in its filings.” Some of the

Online Pro. “This increases productivity when

Legal research in itself is complex, but

information in the EDGAR database includes

operating under strict deadlines. The pro-

corporate paralegals must be familiar with

10-K and 10-Q reports, proxies, securities

gram also has an alert feature, (which allows

specialized research tools in addition to

initiatives, and mutual fund prospectuses.

paralegals to) track a particular company or

general ones. “It’s important to remember

Paralegals should be able to search EDGAR

filing on EDGAR.” CCH, Inc. also produces

that one has the opportunity to be the hero

by company, type of filing, or time period.

several software programs to help corporate

if he or she finds the applicable information

legal professionals, in such areas as securi-

(during legal research), but also the opportu-

Corporate paralegals also must be familiar

ties, trade law, tax compliance, and more.

with the policies of their respective Secretaries of State or Departments of Corpora-

Besides formal research tools, informal

tions-particularly their websites, which

networking can be paramount in corporate

usually provide corporate downloads and

research. “The ABA’s list serves are an easy

documents. “When checking for updates, the

and efficient way to connect to every state’s

Secretary of State’s website is a prime tool,”

codes, (as well as) chat with other attorneys,

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nity to be the goat (if he or she doesn’t),” Mr. Pinckert said. “Therefore, it’s essential to be meticulous and comprehensive.”

Mastering the Maze of Business Filings: Corporate Research Tools for Paralegals  

It is requirement for paralegals to master corporate research tasks and tools. There are so many corporate research resources available also...

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