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    September 23, 2008  
 
 
Arent Fox;
Crowell & Moring

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SEC filings are about to get an extreme makeover of the digital variety beginning on December 15th. As Craig King of Arent Fox tells us, that’s when the SEC is requiring the nation’s 500 largest companies to file using a web-based system that will allow data in filings to be extracted instantly into Excel or other software that can help analyze financials. (Good timing as we seem to be entering the Era of Financial Analysis.)

 

The new system employs open-source technology called XBRL (extensible business reporting language), which allows filers to label or “tag” bits of financial data strewn throughout a filing, which until now could be analyzed on computer only after laboriously working through the paper or EDGAR version and entering values by hand. With XBRL, you can download the tagged data and, for instance, chart the performance of two companies against each other or “take a balance sheet and run all the investment ratios,” Craig says. Not that we actually understand what that means, but it sounds great.

 

Here showing us a Post article about the change to XBRL (headline: “Financial Data on Steroids”), Craig serves as general counsel to the 40-member U.S. consortium championing the technology, which is part of a non-profit called XBRL International. The CEO of the U.S. group, Mark Bolgiano, has gone so far as to take an office next to Craig’s at Arent Fox. Craig tells us that the SEC’s adoption of the technology is just the start: “Think of all the agencies that could use this.” And hey, if you want to jump on board, the U.S. group—made up of accounting firms, software companies, info publishers, and Arent Fox—is looking for more members from the legal community. [Poke Craig.]


Public Policy Group To Crowell
 

Just in time for November elections, Crowell & Moring has landed six lawyers from Pillsbury to join the firm’s newly minted Public Policy Group.  Peter Robertson will head the new group with Dr. Pat Donnelly, one of seven policy pros simultaneously being brought in-house from lobbying affiliate C&M Capitolink. The incoming attorneys have expertise in healthcare, financial services, and especially environmental, and Peter (Deputy EPA Administrator under Clinton) has been monitoring Hill progress on climate change for the Consumer Electronics Association and others. It’s topic “one, two, and three” on everybody’s mind for the new session, he says.

 

Pat, who has a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology that we are trying very hard not to make some kind of ill-advised joke about, tells us that with the arrival of the new team, the time was right to bring Capitolink into the fold. Having all the timekeepers together, he says, avoids the competitive structure created when a firm splits its advocacy work between an affiliate and partners within the firm. Peter’s group leans Democratic (one of them, Tom O’Donnell, was managing director of the 2000 Democratic Convention), but this year Peter opted for a family vacation to Busch Gardens over Denver.

John Ford, former attorney at Wilmer & Cutler and Gilbert Randolph, is Bisnow’s Legal Editor. Send him your story ideas at john@bisnow.com.

 
 
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