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Tracking the Corporate Family Tree

  • July 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Dave Cummings, record manager for Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

BACKGROUND: More than 112 years and 575 attorneys have positioned Shook, Hardy & Bacon as the nation's 50th-largest law firm. With ten offices strategically located throughout the world, Shook, Hardy & Bacon serves a diversified client base with a range of practice groups.

PLATFORMS: Web-based solution.

PROBLEM SOLVED: At Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a vast majority of our clients are Fortune 500 companies. These clients have business relationships and partnerships with a large number of organizations that our firm may be completely unaware of, due to the sheer size of the client corporation. When searching for new business, or when trying to determine if a potential client is a fit for our firm, it is imperative that we have a solid conflict-of-interest management plan in place. While it is extremely time- consuming for our staff to carefully research each prospect to identify a potential conflict of interest, it is imperative that we take this task seriously. If a conflict is overlooked, it could mean a potentially damaging situation for our firm. Because our researchers were spending far too much time and energy manually looking up each client entry, we were seeking a more cost- effective and efficient way to complete this critical task. D&B Family Tree Finder allows us to quickly determine and qualify potential new clients and uncover relationships within large corporate entities where potential conflicts may exist.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using D&B Family Tree Finder, our firm has enhanced the way we conduct our business-to-business conflict management and corporate family searches. Not only do we have access to a D&B's global database of more than 70 million records, but we can also retrieve information from this database in a fraction of the time it used to take us through our manual searches. This has had a great impact on the firm's business as a whole. Because it takes less time and legwork to conduct these searches, we can better utilize staff resources. We also utilize the ability to see the family tree in its hierarchical arrangement so that we can fully understand the interrelationships of a particular organization.

STRENGTHS: With D&B's global database and corporate linkage process, we can better identify family relationships through the D-U-N-S number, a unique nine-digit identification sequence assigned to every business in the D&B database and links headquarters, branches, parents and subsidiaries. More importantly however, is the speed at which we are able to access this information. Through our use of this product, we have been able to uncover potential conflicts of interest and other critical business considerations in minutes. The volume of information that we have been able to retrieve and the quality of the data has been phenomenal. No other product has a more comprehensive, complete and up-to- date database than what I've seen from D&B.

WEAKNESSES: We hit a few bumps in the road when we started using the product. We found that some adjustments had to be made to the type of information that we were receiving from our searches. However, once we voiced our concerns to our support staff at D&B, our needs were met and the necessary changes were made. We feel that the product will continue to improve as our relationship evolves.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We felt that the D&B Family Tree Finder was the best fit for our company's needs. Not only did D&B offer a comprehensive database of relevant information, but also the volume and quality of information and the speed of retrieval were impressive. We were confident that we were investing in a product that would bring us the results we needed.

DELIVERABLES: D&B Family Tree Finder provides us with access to information on companies that we can then print or export for our use. We then develop reports on this information that are used in new business efforts.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Our vendor support experience has been positive. D&B is open to talking with us about our thoughts on how to make D&B Family Tree Finder an even more valuable product, and we have seen tremendous enhancements to the solution over the past 18 months. These improvements have been a direct result of the support staff taking our thoughts and ideas seriously.

DOCUMENTATION: The information we receive from our queries is accurate, easy to understand and easy to access. We were able to get our research staff up to speed in a relatively short amount of time.

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