Bureau of National Affairs, also known to many as BNA, is a great online source of information for lawyers and many other professionals. It has a large network of experts who analyze and report on current legal trends in tax, accounting, employment, intellectual property, health care, and environmental law. Early this year, BNA became a subsidiary of Bloomberg News, so the new “logo” for the company is Bloomberg BNA. This change does not seem to have affected the content of the website. BNA is perhaps best known for the periodical United States Law Week, which provides excellent weekly updates on a variety of legal issues. While US Law Week is a great way to stay current on hot legal issues, BNA also provides many journals, newsletters, and portfolios on a variety of legal subjects. BNA Portfolios may be of particular interest to soon to be graduating students who might find themselves out in the real world facing scary scenarios at their first job such as, “My boss wants help with a tax case,” or “I have to go before the National Labor Relations Board and I don’t even know where to start!”
While there are many sources of case law, administrative code, even state and federal websites that may give insight to the practical aspects of the legal profession, BNA Portfolios put all the practice-ready information about forms, regulatory filing rules, sample documents, and relevant statutes into one source. Think of it as a crash course in a particular area of law. Just like the name suggests, Portfolios include just about everything you would need to practice in a particular area of law. Let’s look at the example of the State Tax Portfolio which can be accessed for free through the Law Library here at the Charlotte School of Law.
From the Charlotte School of Law homepage, www.charlottelaw.edu, follow the “Law Library” link on the left side of the homepage to the list of library resource and click on “Electronic Resources.” This will take you to the Library’s list of electronic databases and online research resources. Across the center of the page are a series of tabs and by clicking on “A-Z Index of Databases” you will pull up a list of all the Library’s databases in alphabetical order. Scroll down to the “Bloomberg BNA Newsletter Package” and click on the link. From this link, you will find a list of all kinds of great BNA resources, including a few Portfolios. Down the list is “TM State Tax Portfolios.” By following this link, you can find a mountain of information in BNA’s Tax and Accounting Center. If you scroll down the left side, under the heading of “Source Documents” there are Portfolios on each state’s tax statues and regulations, agency rulings, and state case law (This area has been especially handy, since my home state test taxes on the bar exam). Clicking on one of these links takes you to a list of all fifty states where you can expand information on a particular state. On the right side of the page of the Tax and Accounting Center site are great links to recent news and articles. You can even sign up for email updates and get the latest tax news sent directly to your inbox. In the center of the site you will find State Tax Portfolios. Under these links you can find useful and detailed information on corporate taxes, business tax credits, tax procedures and administration, even info on “Registering to Do Business”.
Much of this information might be a bit specialized, but that is the point of the Portfolio! Once you know the area of the law in which you will be working, it might be well worth the time and effort to take a look at Bloomberg BNA’s list of Portfolios. The comprehensive files, reports, documents, and information may be everything you are looking for to get up to speed on specific practice areas of the law.
Charlotte School of Law Library offers a great variety of products from BNA, but it is also worth a quick look at what BNA offers to the outside legal world. Other useful Portfolios, as well as newsletters, journals and legal articles, can easily be found by going on the Bloomberg BNA homepage, http://www.bna.com/. Once on the homepage, you will see blue tabs running across the page just below the Bloomberg BNA logo. These four choices of 1.Legal & Business, 2.Tax and Accounting, 3.Environment, Health & Safety, and 4.Human Resources, are also repeated below the tabs and graphics under the “Latest News,” which offers quick links to timely updates. Each of the four tabs has tremendous resources, but first tab, Legal & Business is especially helpful. Clicking on this tab will take you to the Legal & Business section. This page features news and current events in the center of the page, which changes often. To the right are featured products by BNA. If you look at the left column, you will find a list of items that does not change. This list includes many links to areas of the law and at the bottom is a link to “Portfolios.” If you click on this link it takes you to the Legal & Business Portfolio page. There you will find a vast list of individual Portfolios both in a drop-down list to the left, and in the center of the page.
While perusing the site, one will notice the obvious price tag attached to each Portfolio. Each is $195. Not an insignificant price, but not overly pricey considering the amount of information contained in each Portfolio. The price might be worth it, especially if your future law firm or practice does not have a databank of relevant and up-to-date documents.
As with many databases and websites in law school, students have access to a few BNA Portfolios and I encourage students to try them out now while these are free! Once you are comfortable and confident with seeking out other sources of legal information, a world of resources will open to you.
~Charlie Schmidt, L’12~