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Transactional Law Research

This guide provides an overview of transactional law research resources.

Introduction to SEC Filings

SEC filings contain useful information about public companies and their finances. Public companies must follow the SEC's disclosure requirements to be listed on major U.S. stock exchanges. The Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act) requires investors to receive financial and other information about securities offered for public sale, which is intended to prevent misrepresentations and fraud in the sale of securities. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) created the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided the SEC with the power to regulate and oversee the securities industry. Regulation S-K sets out the reporting requirements for SEC filings under both acts. 

Some of the most common types of SEC filings include: 

  • S-1: registration statement under Securities Act of 1933. Includes information about a company's business model and finances. Used by companies filing their initial public offering (IPO) to register with the SEC.
  • 10-K: annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
  • 10-Q: quarterly report under Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
  • 8-K: current report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Provides updates on significant events that occur in between the 10-K/10-Q (annual/quarterly) updates, such as bankruptcies or changes in senior leadership.

   

A comprehensive list of SEC forms can be found in the Index to Forms on the SEC website. 

Filings are available for searching on the SEC's official EDGAR website. Paid resources, such as Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg, provide alternate tools to search EDGAR filings. 

EDGAR

EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) provides free access to corporate information and SEC filings from 1994 to the present. Companies are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other SEC forms through EDGAR. This section provides an overview of the options available for conducting searches on EDGAR. 

The search options for EDGAR are listed on the SEC's Search Tools page under its Filings section.

Company Filings Search:

Through Company Filings Search, users can search (1) by company name or (2) by ticker symbol or central index key (CIK). The CIK is the identification number given to an individual, company, or government entity filing with the SEC. 

After searching for a specific company, the easiest method to retrieve a particular filing is to filter the results by filing type (e.g., 10-K, 8-K, etc.) and date. A list of the numbers of SEC forms to enter into the filing type field is available in the Forms List

Full-Text Search:

Users can conduct full-text searches from the last four years using the EDGAR Full-Text Search. Note: the four-year timeframe is on a rolling basis (i.e. 4 years from the date of the search).  

Click on "Advanced Search Page" to view additional search options, including the ability to refine by the type of form, limit by date, and restrict the search to a particular company name, central index key (CIK), or standard industrial classification (SIC). 

Boolean and Advanced Searching in the Archive of Historical EDGAR Documents:

Users can conduct Boolean searches across filings from 1994 to present (except for the most recent day) in the Archive of Historical EDGAR Documents. Click on "Search String" for tips on how to formulate Boolean searches.

Latest Filings Received and Processed at the SEC:

Users can browse or search within a listing of the most recent filings for the current official filing date in the Latest Filings Received and Processed at the SEC. This listing includes filings made after the 5:30 pm deadline on the previous filing day. 

For additional information on how to conduct searches on EDGAR, please see the following resources on the SEC's website:

Lexis

Lexis Advance

Lexis Advance has a database of SEC filings available for search in its Securities Law practice area. 

Lexis has two collections of SEC filings: EDGAR (1994 to present) and archival SEC online filings (from July 1987 through September 1997). 

Lexis Securities Mosaic

Lexis Securities Mosaic is a separate product from Lexis Advance, and can be accessed through its product switcher menu (the icon of nine boxes in the top left corner). Securities Mosaic allows for more sophisticated searching of EDGAR filings, along with other SEC documents, securities laws, Canadian company filings (SEDAR), and UK company filings. 

Bloomberg

SEC filings are available for in Bloomberg through its Transactional Intelligence Center or through its Securities Practice Center.

 

     

Both of these centers will provide links to the advanced EDGAR search

Bloomberg 

Westlaw

Westlaw Edge

Westlaw's collection offers a Business Law Center which includes EDGAR Forms and Exhibits, selected SEC paper filings, and certain global filings from foreign jurisdictions. 

Historical SEC Filings

EDGAR contains SEC filings from 1994 to the present, but other resources provide access to older SEC filings. For a comprehensive overview of the resources available to members of the Stanford University Community, please see the GSB Library's research guide on Corporate Reports

Green Library Media & Microtext Center has various SEC filings available on microfiche, including 10-K from 1967-1989 and registration statements from 1971-89. The Business Library offers in-person access to Laser Disclosure, which contains annual reports, 10-K reports, and registrations and proxies from 1988 through 2002.

Additional Securities Law Research Resources