Corporate law is primarily controlled by state law. Typically state governments have a particular department or division that handles matters relating to corporations and other business entities. Often this department or division falls under the purview of a state's Secretary of State. More specifically, if you are starting a new company, dissolving an existing company, or trying to find information about a company, you will likely need to contact the relevant department in the applicable state. Since Delaware law is particularly important in the area of corporate law and since most graduates of this law school practice in the state of California, this section of the law guide will discuss the relevant departments in the states of Delaware and California.
If you're looking for the department or division that handles business-related matters in states other than Delaware or California then visit the website for the National Association of Secretaries of States. This website provides contact information and links to the websites for each state's Secretary of State. Start by selecting Resources and then Business Services.
In Delaware, the agency that primarily handles matters related to corporate law is the Division of Corporations, a subdivision of the Department of State. On the agency's website you can find forms, order documents, and more.
In California there are two agencies that regularly handle matters related to corporate law: the Secretary of State and the Department of Business Oversight.
The largest division within the Secretary of State is the Business Programs Division. This Division supports California businesses by registering and authenticating business entities and trademarks and enabling secured creditors to protect their financial interests.
The Business Entities Section processes, files and maintains records related to corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other business entities that wish to do business in California.
The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) protects consumers and oversees financial service providers and products. The DBO supervises the operations of state-licensed financial institutions (like banks and credit unions). The DBO also licenses and regulates a variety of financial service providers.
The DBO is divided into several divisions, one of which is the Division of Corporations (DOC). The DOC provides consumer protections and licenses and regulates securities brokers and dealers, investment advisers and financial planners, consumer and commercial lenders, and certain other fiduciaries. It also regulates the offer and sales of securities, franchises and off-exchange commodities.
The Financial Services Division is a subdivision of the DOC. It is responsible for the regulation of lenders and certain fiduciaries.
The Securities Regulation Division is another subdivision of the DOC. It is responsible for the qualification of the offer and sale of securities and the licensing and regulation of broker-dealers, and other parties.
The Enforcement Division is responsible for enforcing the laws under the Investment and Lender-Fiduciary Programs administered by the Department of Business Oversight.