March 25, 2011  nº 1.021 -  Vol. 9

"The optimist sees opportunity in every danger, the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity."

Winston Churchill

In today's Law Firm Marketing, Turn negatives into positives using the contrast principle.


Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at


  • Top News

Portuguese law unclear on bailout amid government limbo

PM Jose Socrates' resignation has left legal experts in debt-laden Portugal debating whether a caretaker government has the power to request an international bailout if its economic woes deepen. The country's vaguely-worded constitution says that a caretaker government "must restrict itself to acts that are strictly necessary to ensure the management of public matters." Some legal experts say a caretaker government would not be able to request a bailout, as it falls outside the sort of short-term decisions the constitution permits. It could also tie the hands of any future government. "The constitution does not list the things a caretaker can or cannot do. It includes everything that cannot be postponed, but anything that commits a future government should not be done," said Tiago Duarte, a law professor at the Catholic University. Uncertainty over the political outlook could create more volatility and push the country's borrowing costs to prohibitive levels, forcing it to become the third euro zone country after Greece and Ireland to require a European Union/IMF rescue. In such a situation, it is not inconceivable that a bailout could be considered as day-to-day management of the country's affairs, as it would be necessary for Portugal to be able to finance itself. "'Strictly necessary' is normally understood, by experts who write about the constitution, as everything that cannot be delayed and is significantly important," said Miguel Nogueira Brito, a law professor at Lisbon University. "That measure, requesting external help, could fit the criteria," he added. Socrates' minority Socialist government has refused to request external aid and promised on Thursday again to do everything possible to avoid it.

One year later health reform still uncertain

Health care reform in America, one year later: More people can get insurance but some premiums are higher. Seniors can get checks for drug costs, but taxes for that "fake bake" tan are higher. Health care reform politics, one year later: A fierce push to repeal or de-fund the law. An intense legal assault challenging the law's constitutionality. Republicans angrily insisting the federal government has overreached, grabbing too much power. What more controlling element could the government look to than your health care, and your family's care? The ongoing debate over the impact of the Affordable Care Act — fueled by huge budget deficits and tea party activists — may actually be louder now than it was last March. New polls show that the public is still deeply confused about the law and its consequences in their lives a year after president Barack Obama signed it.

Arbitration Express

TNK-BP blocks BP Russian Arctic venture with Rosneft

Russian shareholders of TNK-BP have blocked BP's Arctic exploration deal with state-owned Rosneft. "We won," said a spokesman for the oil joint venture's Russian shareholders. A Swedish arbitration panel in London agreed that the Arctic deal violated a previous agreement between them and BP made when they set up TNK-BP. BP said it was disappointed at the decision, and hoped it could still go ahead with a share swap agreed with Rosneft as part of the deal.

Before you open the door to the boardroom, peek through the keyhole!

Michael Page specializes in the placement of candidates in permanent, contract, temporary and interim positions within client companies around the world. Have a look at the new section of the Migalhas website and discover the professional development opportunities with large corporations, in legal and business fields, presented by Michael Page International. Click here to peep through the hole!

  • Crumbs

1 - Court rules in Italy's favour over demonstrator's killing - click here.

2 - Court oks exhumation of Brazilian singer Tim Maia - click here.

3 - Court to hear case stalled by mistake in mailroom - click here.

4 - Should we pay for whistle-blowing? - click here.

5 - A new, improved pill mill bill - click here.

6 - Obama's war on schools - click here.

7 - Former Goldman Sachs programmer sentenced in federal criminal case - click here.

8 - Investigator urged extortion charges for Gibson's ex-girlfriend - click here.

9 - Worst wedding video ever? - click here.

10 - Five firms get call for AT&T/T-Mobile antitrust, regulatory work - click here.

11 - Get out of jail free card costs $100m in Georgia - click here.


100% Migalhas:


  • MiMIC Journal

China high-speed rail funds 'embezzled'

Millions of dollars in funds for China's high-speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai were embezzled in 2010. Officials said 187m yuan ($28.5m) had been stolen by individuals and construction companies. The judicial authorities are investigating. China's railways minister was sacked last month over corruption allegations.

China to ban smoking in public

China's health ministry says it plans to ban smoking in most public places by May this year, although smoking will still be permitted in workplaces.

  • Law Firm Marketing

Turn negatives into positives using the contrast principle

by Trey Ryder

No lawyer has all positive qualities.  When prospects think about hiring your services, they see both strengths and weaknesses.

Positive qualities that distinguish you from other lawyers are your competitive advantages.  Negative qualities are your competitive disadvantages. 

Naturally, you hope prospects conclude that your positives outweigh your negatives.  And to help make your case, you try to neutralize negatives so prospects think they are not important.  Still, you can't be sure what impact those negatives will have on your overall presentation. 

Here is your marketing challenge:  How do you take negative aspects of your services and change them into positives so the negatives don't cause your prospect to hire another lawyer? 

In his book, INFLUENCE (Morrow, 1984), psychology professor Robert Cialdini discusses principles that persuade people at the subconscious level.  One of these, the contrast principle, allows you to change how prospects perceive facts. 

The contrast principle says:  You can change how a person perceives something by changing the event that precedes it.  

Since prospects' perceptions are their reality, when you change their perception, you change what they believe is true. 

Here is how the contrast principle works.  (Yes, you can try this at home):  Prepare three buckets of water.  One with cold water.  One with hot water.  And one with water at room temperature.  Place one hand in the cold water and your other hand in the hot water.  Then at the same time, place both hands into the room temperature water. 

Your surprise illustrates the contrast principle.  The hand that was first in cold water now feels like it is in hot water.  And the hand that was in hot water now feels like it is in cold water.  Yet, you can plainly see both hands are in the same water. 

How each hand perceives the room-temperature water depends on the event that preceded it, namely whether your hand was first placed into water that was cold or hot. 

Another example:  A man goes into a fashionable clothing store and tells the clerk he wants to buy a three-piece suit and a sweater.  If you were the clerk, which would you show him first?   

The contrast principle says always sell the more costly item first.  Because after the man buys the suit, the cost of a sweater -- even an expensive sweater -- will seem small by comparison. 

If the clerk first showed the man a $500 sweater, the man might hesitate because that sounds expensive for a sweater.  But if the man had just purchased a $1500 custom-tailored suit, $500 for a sweater does not seem out of line. 

How the man perceives the price of the sweater changes depending on whether it is the first item he considers, or whether he first buys the expensive suit. 

Now, to your law practice:  Identify something you believe prospects perceive negatively about you or your services.  To make it easy, let's use your fee.  If you want your prospect to perceive your fee as fair and reasonable, before you state your fee, quote something much higher.  Then when your prospect hears your fee, he will perceive it as lower than he would have had you not quoted the higher number.

Example #1:

Wrong:  "Mr. Jones, I can prepare your estate plan for $12,000."  Mr. Jones, in shock, thinks, "$12,000!  That's more than I paid for my first house!

Right:  "Mr. Jones, this estate plan will save your family over $200,000 in federal estate taxes.  I can prepare this estate plan for you and your family for just $12,000."  Now Mr. Jones thinks, "Not much at all compared with the amount of taxes my family will save.  What a bargain!"

Example #2:

Wrong:  "Ms. Smith, I can represent you in your injury claim and my fee will be one third of the recovery."  Ms. Smith thinks, "This lawyer gets one third of my money!"

Right:  "Ms. Smith, to handle an injury claim like yours, some lawyers charge as much as 40 percent of the recovery, and even 50 percent if the case goes to trial.  But, Ms. Smith, I'll be pleased to represent you -- and aggressively protect your interests -- for just one third of the amount we collect."  Ms. Smith thinks, "This lawyer is much more generous than those other greedy lawyers."

The contrast principle holds true for any information you need to disclose, whether it is your fee, turnaround time for projects, even the number of years your client might spend in prison.

"Mr. Criminal, most people who commit armed robbery get 10 to 15 years in state prison.  The district attorney has offered us a plea bargain that will make you eligible for parole in just five years.  I recommend that you accept this plea bargain."

Five years sounds short after you quote 10 to 15 years.  But five years would have sounded like a long time if you had not quoted the other numbers first.

"Ms. Client, under normal circumstances I would need three to four weeks to complete this project.  But I understand this matter is a priority for you, so I promise to complete it and have it on your desk within ten days."  By itself, ten days might seem like a long time, but not when first compared with three to four weeks.

Summary:  When you reach the point in your discussion where you must disclose a fact that might be perceived as negative, describe something more extreme in the preceding sentence.  Then your prospect will perceive the information you disclose as more reasonable.  In fact, you might turn a competitive disadvantage into an advantage based simply on how you present it.


© Trey Ryder

FREE LAWYER MARKETING ALERT:  If you'd like to receive Trey Ryder's weekly Lawyer Marketing Alert, send an e-mail to Write "Subscribe LMA" in the subject line and write your name and e-mail address in the body of the message.


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  • Historia Verdadera


La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos ordenó a Uruguay dejar sin efecto la Ley de Caducidad que en 1986 dio impunidad a militares y policías que violaron los derechos humanos durante la dictadura, y exhortó a indemnizar a Macarena Gelman, nieta del escritor argentino, por la desaparición de su madre, María Claudia García.


El presidente de LAN Airlines de Chile, Jorge Awad, manifestó que la decisión del TDLC -Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia- de someter a consulta su alianza con TAM no afectará los títulos de la aerolínea, así como tampoco a la materialización de esta alianza.


Coca-Cola de Chile comunicó ayer la materialización del acuerdo de venta de la participación que mantenía en la embotelladora local Embonor a la familia Vicuña y el banco de inversión LarrainVial.

  • Brief News

Portugal PM Socrates' resignation overshadows EU summit

EU leaders are grappling with a new eurozone threat after Portugal's parliament rejected an austerity budget and PM Jose Socrates resigned. The vote means an international bail-out, similar to those accepted by Greece and the Irish Republic last year, is now far more likely. Socrates said opposition parties had "removed from the government the conditions to govern". The EU summit in Brussels is aimed at tackling the eurozone debt crisis.

Nato takes over Libya no-fly zone

Nato is to take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, but other aspects of the military operation will remain in coalition hands.

Syria pledges political reforms

Syria's government announces a series of reforms, aimed at quelling rising unrest in the country's south.

Yemen security forces brace for mass protest

Security forces in Yemen's capital Sanaa are gathering in force ahead of what anti-government protesters say will be their biggest rally yet. The protesters are demanding the resignation of president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled since 1978.

Clashes break out at Jordan anti-government protest

Supporters of Jordan's government have clashed with protesters demanding political reforms in the capital Amman. The protesters were demanding the resignation of PM Marouf al-Bakhit, reforms to parliament and for corrupt officials to stand trial.

FBI gives agents more leeway to question terrorism suspects

The FBI has told agents that in "exceptional cases" they can question suspects for a longer amount of time before reading them their Miranda rights. There must be an "immediate threat" to public safety.

Uncle Sam wants your money, not your confession

Sitting in a federal prison for the rest of his life, Bernard Madoff neither admits nor denies that he committed civil securities fraud. Yes, he pleaded guilty to criminal fraud and drew a 150- year sentence for his $20bn bilking. But the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission settled its civil fraud case against him without making him acknowledge a solitary lie. So routinely do people and firms resolve SEC cases "without admitting or denying" wrongdoing, as the agency's boilerplate phrase goes, that even the guiltiest of fraudsters who confess in criminal court to the most audacious of crimes never come clean with the SEC, which has its own, civil cases to resolve. They don't have to admit anything for the agency to get off their backs, as long as they agree to disgorging allegedly ill-gotten gains and other penalties. At least with Madoff and anyone else pleading or found guilty in criminal court, the public can be pretty sure they ripped off someone. But what about those who are never charged with crimes, who are accused only by the SEC in civil actions? How are we to know whether an accused person or firm really lied to investors? Except for the rare defendant who denies wrongdoing and goes to trial, there's no way to know. "Our main objective in any case is to obtain appropriate sanctions against wrongdoers." Not demanding an admission while forbidding a denial is supposed to help accomplish that. Accused violators will give up a lot to avoid a trial where they could be found liable. And they're not about to confess anything. An admission or verdict against them would be manna from heaven for plaintiffs' lawyers representing investors or others who say they were cheated.

ECJ legal adviser finds ban on genetically modified crops illegal

ECJ - European Court of justice advocate general Paolo Mengozzi on Tuesday issued an opinion declaring that a french ban on cultivating GM - genetically modified crops is illegal. In 2008, France sought to prohibit production within its borders of MON 810, a GM strain of maize developed by US-based Monsanto, by citing a safeguard clause adopted by the EU in 2004. The clause is designed to allow EU member states to restrict previously approved products in the event that new evidence emerges indicating that the product in question is harmful to either humans or the environment. MON 810 was approved for use by the EU in 1998, and Mengozzi disagrees with applying the clause on the grounds that France imposed its ban without proper European Commission consultation. Though such opinions are not binding, courts typically adopt the stance set forth by advocates general.

Advertisers in Europe may face limits in use of keywords

An adviser to the highest EU court recommended Thursday that some restrictions be placed on the rights of advertisers to use the names of rivals as keywords to generate sponsored links on internet search engines. If the court goes along with the opinion, the decision could make some advertisers more cautious in their purchase of the search ads on Google, one of the fastest-growing areas of marketing in recent years, analysts said.

In Galleon case, clash over Goldman chief

Prosecutors are trying to prevent Raj Rajaratnam's defense team from trying to discredit Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein as a trial witness with questions about government investigations into the bank.

Why Goldman prefers voice mail over e-mail

In court on Wednesday, testifying at the insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam, Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, told jurors that he sometimes does not read his e-mail, preferring instead to listen to voice mail. He testified that he typically digests the day's daily profit and loss statement via voice mail. "Once I am informed, I am not looking to necessarily read about it," he testified. "If it's something that sounds like a typical day, I will just let it go and just listen to the voice mail." On the one hand, this is hardly surprising. Goldman has long had a culture of leaving voice mail, well before e-mail became a goldmine for investigating regulators. Executives joke that they "do voice mail." Goldman's preference for talking over writing was underscored by e-mails that emerged as a result of investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and by Congress. (The S.E.C. accused the firm of deceiving clients by selling them mortgage securities secretly designed to fail by a hedge fund firm, allegations Goldman later settled without admitting or denying guilt.) In e-mail messages found by investigators, Goldman executives would often sign off with "LDL" — short for let's discuss live. But Blankfein's preference for voice mail over e-mail took some Wall Street insiders by surprise. He was an early adopter of the BlackBerry. Goldman Sachs executives say that years ago, before he became chief executive in 2006, they would often get e-mail from Blankfein in the middle of the night.

Guatemala first lady Sandra Torres confirms divorce

Guatemala's first lady, Sandra Torres de Colom, has confirmed that she is divorcing president Alvaro Colom so she can stand for election to succeed him. Torres fought back tears as she told Guatemalans she was leaving a loving marriage for the sake of the nation. "I am divorcing my husband but I am getting married to the people," she said at a news conference. Guatemala's constitution bans close relatives of the president from standing to succeed him.

Defects at nuclear plants not reported

A report from the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said companies that operate U.S. nuclear power plants are not telling the government about some equipment defects that could create safety risks.

Spain denies legal status to new Basque political party

The Spanish Supreme Court on Wednesday denied legal status to new political party, Sortu, in response to the government's concerns that its links to the Basque separatist group ETA had not been completely severed. ETA is an organization committed to fighting for full nationhood of the Basque region of Spain and France. Spanish and french authorities have proscribed this group as a terrorist organization that is blamed for the deaths of over 800 people. According to the court, Sortu is a successor of the banned ETA-linked party Batasuna.  

Egypt temporary government releases decree criminalizing strikes

Egypt's interim government, the Cabinet of Ministers released a decree on Wednesday that will impose prison sentences for strike actions and inciting protests. Although the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has yet to rule on the decree, many citizens were outraged and have planned a protest for Friday. Strikes have been ongoing since the recent revolution, with postal workers, police officers, hospital staff, railway workers, lawyers and journalists, among other groups, continuing to strike for better work conditions and pay. The decree would criminalize any protests, strikes or sit-ins that negatively affect the economy, as well as those who call for or incite action, with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds.

Small businesses wise up to coupon websites' bad deals

A glut of group-buying coupon sites entering the market has required small businesses to grow weary of daily deals. Sites likes take 50% of all coupon sales often leaving shops with zero or negative profits, but intense competition has given them the leverage to negotiate. Niche coupon sites can offer better payoffs and contracts and retailers are catching on.

P2P pirating down to 9% of us users

A recent survey found that illegal peer-to-peer file transferring has been reduced to 9% of all U.S. Internet users. The data suggests that most users download a few songs here or there and the shut down of programs like LimeWire has contributed to the decrease. While P2P use is down, illegal streaming of music and movies has skyrocketed.

  • Daily Press Review

Thousands protest in Syrian town despite reform pledges
Al Arabiya, Online news, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

NATO to police Libya no-fly zone
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Gulf states 'to deport Hezbollah, Iranian agents'
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

200 Oman private sector workers protest for pay rise
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

No plans for regime change in Libya, assures U.N. chief
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Haniyeh to Islamic Jihad: Stop attacks on Israel
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Estonia says working to free Lebanon abductees
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Yemen army split could mean civil war
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

Water radiation very high at Japan plant
CNN International, London, England

Jerusalem bus bomb: British woman killed named Mary Jean Gardner
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Elizabeth Taylor laid to rest in private funeral service
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

EU summit decisive over Libya but delays bail-out
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

LIBYA: Turkey reluctantly joins NATO operations against Libya
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Sub-Saharan Africa is not Egypt, William Hague 
Guardian The, Liberal daily, London, England

Prius factory to restart, Honda extends shutdown
Independent The, London, England

First Libyan jet destroyed by french air force as coalition continues attacks
Irish Times The, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Iraqi parties differ on insurgent groups joining politics
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Major climbdown on MPs' expenses rules
Spiked, (Alternative Internet Magazine), London, England

Japanese people need our solidarity, not a blame game
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Hunt for missing Sian O'Callaghan turns into double murder investigation
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

African Union invites Libya govt, opposition to talks
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Radiation scare sparks run on bottled water in Tokyo
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Gov't must react calmly to radiation fears
Daily Jang, Left-wing daily, Karachi, Pakistan

WB approves $400m to support education development in Pakistan, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

Ahmedabad University, Stanford to launch innovation centre
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

More than 25 killed in Myanmar earthquake
News The, Left-wing, Karachi, Pakistan

'Home-grown' rebellion fights NY smoking ban
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Japan consumer prices fall for 24th month
Taiwan Today, Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan

Translation projects unlock world of Taiwanese literature
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

China will overtake US, dominate global trade by 2030: Report
Times of India, Conservative, New Delhi, India

Japan reactor nuclear core may have breached
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Canadian patrol planes to join Libya mission
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

CHTA continues fight to ease UK tax barriers
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

China finds two Japanese entering with high radiation
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Lohan has 'strong defense' in necklace case, her attorney says
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Call for Mills' arrest was a slip of tongue  - Wayo
iafrica, Online news portal, Cape Town, South Africa


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