April 8, 2011  nº 1.027 -  Vol. 9


"Reason is a whore, surviving by simulation, versatility, and shamelessness."

Emile M. Cioran

In today's Law Firm Marketing, First impressions convey your image even when you don't want them to.

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Read Migalhas LatinoAmérica in Spanish every Tuesday and Thursday. Visit the website at www.migalhas.com/latinoamerica

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  • Top News

U.S. eyes new stock rules

Federal securities regulators are moving toward easing decades-old constraints on share issues by private companies, in a sweeping review that could remake the way American start-ups raise capital. The review by the Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosed in a letter to a lawmaker, could fuel the fast-growing market in private shares of technology firms such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Zynga Inc. The steps under consideration would help such privately held companies raise more money without incurring the increased reporting and other requirements of becoming a public company. According to the letter and people familiar with the matter, the likely changes would include raising from 499 the number of shareholders private companies can have without being required to open their books, and also making it easier for such companies to publicize share offerings.  Such a shift would upend the normal path for fledgling companies to raise funds, in which venture capitalists provide rounds of private funding, leading ultimately to an initial public offering of stock to the public, where large and small investors can participate. Instead, companies could remain private and raise money by selling shares to a wider number of investors. The move could potentially delay or derail IPOs by tech companies that want to grow but would rather avoid having to disclose vast amounts of information. It could also shut out many ordinary investors from one of the fastest-growing market sectors, since shares in private companies are generally available only to investors whose individual net worth is at least $1m. And at a time when investors are seeking more market transparency, it would lessen the amount of publicly available data about those companies.

Justice Department opposes changes to Electronic Privacy Law

Congress is discussing updating the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to deal with new technologies like smartphones, cloud computing, and social networking sites. Privacy protections "must advance with technology" or privacy will "gradually erode as technology advances." So said the Senate Judiciary Committee -- in 1986, the year that the ECPA - Electronic Communications Privacy Act was passed. On Wednesday, that committee met to discuss overhauling the aging law. At the meeting, Sen. Patrick Leahy, who chairs the committee, said that "while still a useful tool for our government, today, ECPA is a law that is hampered by conflicting standards that cause confusion for law enforcement, the business community and American consumers alike." For example, he said that from a data collection standpoint, the law doesn't clearly specify how mobile phone location information can be accessed during criminal or national security investigations. As a result, law enforcement agencies must grapple with different interpretations from different courts of the ECPA. The move to overhaul ECPA began last year, after the Digital Due Process group -- which counts Amazon.com, the Center for Democracy & Technology, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com, among other well-known organizations, as members -- began pushing for the law to be updated, clarified, and simplified. "ECPA's privacy rules reflect the technology of 1986," according to an analysis published by the Center For Democracy & Technology. "For example, when ECPA was drafted, electronic storage was expensive and providers discarded email shortly after the user downloaded it to his or her computer, or after a few months if it was not downloaded. As a result, ECPA treats emails stored with a provider for more than 180 days as if they were abandoned and makes them available to the government with a mere subpoena." The Department of Justice, however, signaled that it's happy with the current thresholds for accessing people's private information. James A. Baker, associate deputy attorney general for the Department of Justice, told the committee on Wednesday that "the government's ability to access, review, analyze, and act promptly upon the communications of criminals that we acquire lawfully, as well as data pertaining to such communications, is vital to our mission to protect the public from terrorists, spies, organized criminals, kidnappers, and other malicious actors."

Judges grill SEC over proxy access costs

A panel of judges grilled U.S. securities regulators on Thursday over the costs of a rule that business groups charge would give activist unions and pension funds too much power to nominate their own candidates for corporate boards. During oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, doubts were raised about the Securities and Exchange Commission's estimates for how many contested board elections would result. There was also skepticism expressed over whether the rule would enhance corporate democracy to the benefit of the average shareholder. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable are challenging the rule, alleging the SEC has failed to conduct an adequate cost-benefit analysis, a requirement that has seen SEC rules overturned in the past.

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  • Crumbs

1 - City Councilman Leroy Comrie's bill to ban toys in Happy Meals with over 500 calories is fat-headed - click here.

2 - Rio school shooting: official says 13 children dead - click here.

3 - Chief reporter and assistant editor at News of World arrested over phone hacking - click here.

4 - Two new French crimes - click here.

5 - Scissors left in woman's stomach for three years by bungling surgeons - click here.

6 - Brazilian farmers demand weaker environmental laws - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Ai Weiwei held for 'economic crimes'

China's foreign ministry has confirmed that police are investigating artist Ai Weiwei for suspected economic crimes. Ai is a vocal critic of the Chinese government, complaining about a lack of basic rights and freedoms and often incorporating these political themes into his work.

Shanghai Disneyland project breaks ground at last

Shanghai government officials and executives from Walt Disney have broken ground on mainland China's first Disneyland amusement park. The $3.7bn project to bring Mickey Mouse and other Disney figures to China has taken 10 years of talks. Construction is expected to take five years, but analysts are ambivalent about the project's chance of success. The company hopes to open the park by 2015 and to avoid the cultural mistakes that marred other park openings.

  • Law Firm Marketing

First impressions convey your image even when you don't want them to

by Trey Ryder

Lawyers often go to great lengths to design handsome offices so they make a positive, commanding impression when prospective clients come into their office.

But your prospects may decide not to meet with you if their first impressions of you are negative.  And many times, their first impressions are formed long before they reach your office door.

First impressions are often made by one or more of the following.  Evaluate how you measure up in these areas.

1.  Web site.  Fortunately, lawyers and law firms exercise a great deal of control over the appearance of their web sites.  This is one area where you can easily convey a dignified, professional, upscale image.  Is the appearance of your web site consistent with the image you want for your firm?

2.  Display ads.  Similar to yellow page ads, prospects can draw a number of conclusions from your display ads.  Does your ad convey a dignified, professional image?  Or does it make you look like a low-end law firm?  Does your ad speak softly and clearly to your prospect?  Or does it scream?

3.  Brochure.  Does your brochure provide all the information you prospect wants?  Or does it leave out important facts that would help your prospect decide to hire you?  Is your brochure crisp, clean and neat?  Or did you reproduce it on your copy machine, with poor photos and black marks throughout?

Every negative conclusion your prospect draws from your brochure creates a negative perception about your firm.  To your prospect, your brochure IS your firm.  Is your brochure everything you want it to be?  Neat.  Clean.  Attractive.  Crisp.  Precise.  Informative.  Easy to understand.  Easy to follow.  Complete.  Helpful.  Friendly.  Personal.  Are you pleased with the image your brochure conveys?

4.  Yellow page ad. I recently reviewed the new yellow pages for the Phoenix metro area. As in many large cities, lawyer listings and display ads consume over 100 pages. Leafing through the ads, I hope the lawyers and law firms those ads represent have more integrity and character than I would conclude from the appearance of those ads.

In an effort to get noticed, yellow page ads are getting more and more graphically outrageous.  No doubt, some of the ads are consistent with the image of the lawyer(s) they represent.  Also, no doubt, some well-respected and capable firms would shudder to think prospects draw conclusions about their firm based on the appearance of their yellow page ad.

If you run a yellow page ad, does it accurately convey the image you want for your firm?  I hope so because your prospect's first impression may come from that yellow page ad.

5.  Business cards. Are they crisp, clean and professional?  Is information on the card easy to find?  Are the type size and font easy to read?  Do they look like traditional lawyer cards?  Do they convey the image you want prospects to receive?

6.  Stationery and envelopes.  After one of my articles appeared in a legal publication, a lawyer requested my law marketing articles, which I sent by e-mail.  After receiving my fact kit, the lawyer sent me a letter by mail.

Picture this:  Outside envelope:  Smudged rubber stamp with the lawyer's name and return address.  "CONFIDENTIAL" scrawled in handwritten ballpoint pen.

Inside stationery:  Name and address typed at the top.  "Attorney at Law", "Telephone" and "Facsimile" were photocopied onto her letterhead from someone else's letterhead, in a font often used for engraved stationery.  Then her phone numbers were typed in after those words.  "Serving the legal profession since (unreadable year)".  Then all this was photocopied onto Classic Laid stationery, so everything appears to be a second- or third-generation photocopy.  Then (yes, there's more) the unreadable year in "serving the legal profession since..." was overwritten in ballpoint pen to read (I think) "1979".

I can't imagine prospects would hire this lawyer if they first saw her letterhead.  What's more, I can't imagine this lawyer could be as bad as her stationery.  But I may be wrong.

Do your stationery and envelopes convey the image you want to project?  Your letterhead and envelope may be the first thing your prospect sees.  Make sure it represents you well.

7.  Telephone reception. The person who answers your phone is critical to your marketing success.  You can create powerful, effective marketing in every area.  But if you have a weak person answering your phone, you've got problems.  You want the person who answers to be friendly, informed and efficient.  The person calling your office can notice a weakness on the telephone in the first three seconds  It's a negative impression you don't want to make.

Harvey Mackay, in his syndicated business column, said the person answering the phone should be the highest paid person in the office, other than the boss.  When prospects call your office, are they greeted promptly by someone who makes sure their calls get to the proper person without delay?

8.  Voice mail message. I recently concluded an assignment from a long-time friend and attorney.  When I called his office and got his voice mail, his message was a real disappointment.  I know him to be a positive, upbeat person.  But his voice mail message didn't reflect that.  He spoke in a monotone that made him sound bored and uninterested.  Clearly a turnoff to someone who doesn't know him, like prospective clients.

When you're fortunate enough to have prospects calling your office, make sure the message they receive -- even a voice mail message -- is professional, upbeat, friendly and inviting.

Everything prospects see, hear, and read about your firm creates an image in their mind.  Everything!  I urge you to work overtime to make sure the impressions you create on prospects are consistent with the images you want to convey.  In addition to attracting new clients, your marketing program should be designed to convey, refine and polish your firm's image so you always -- always! -- make a positive first impression.

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© Trey Ryder

FREE LAWYER MARKETING ALERT:  If you'd like to receive Trey Ryder's weekly Lawyer Marketing Alert, send an e-mail to Trey@TreyRyder.com. 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

Elecciones

La elección presidencial del domingo sería la más reñida en la historia de Perú, ya que ningún candidato tiene la opción de ganar en una primera votación y hasta tres están peleando por ir a un balotaje con el favorito, al cierre de las campañas el jueves.

Banca

El Consejo de Administración del Banco de Exportaciones e Importaciones de Estados Unidos aprobó un préstamo de US$ 2.840 mlls. para la Reficar - Refinería de Cartagena SA, en Colombia.

Inversiones

La petrolera Argentina YPF en asociación con Baker Hughes y la Corporación América invertirá en Ecuador US$ 1.000 mlls., en áreas de exploración petrolera.

  • Brief News

US budget talks ends without deal  

Obama says another round of talks with congressional leaders has helped, but there is no deal yet to avert a government shutdown. He said he hoped to be able to announce a deal on Friday but "there's no certainty yet." At issue is a spending bill to keep the government running after midnight Friday.  The administration issued a statement calling the stopgap bill "a distraction from the real work" of agreeing on legislation to cover the six months left in the current fiscal year.

Call to end Ivory Coast sanctions

Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara urges the EU to lift sanctions, amid warnings of a deepening humanitarian crisis. The nation's regional and ethnic divisions have sparked violence sporadically over the course of the past decade, but particularly so in the months since the election. As there's an awful lot of ethnic hatred and calling for revenge here, there is a huge challenge in restoring public order in Abidjan. In Abidjan, a lot of civilians have received weapons the last few weeks and those people will remain in place after Gbagbo is gone. Ivory Coast was once considered the most politically stable and prosperous state in West Africa.

Ex-Enron CEO Jeff Skilling denied new trial

A US appeals court has denied ex-Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling a new trial, upholding his conviction on 19 counts of conspiracy and other crimes. The court rejected arguments that faulty jury instructions at his 2006 trial meant he should get a new trial. The arguments were based on a June US Supreme Court ruling that an anti-fraud law was improperly used to convict him. The court said that the Pinkerton instruction given to the jury was harmless error, and, therefore, Skilling "has no basis on which to challenge the remaining convictions." Skilling's lawyer has said he will continue efforts to overturn Skilling's convictions. In addition, on Wednesday the three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston vacated Skilling's 24-year prison sentence and sent it back to a lower court for re-sentencing.

Apple wins $625m Mirror Worlds patents appeal

A judge has thrown out a ruling that would have forced Apple to pay $625m for alleged patent infringements. A jury decided last year that Apple's Spotlight, Time Machine and Cover Flow systems violated three patents held by small technology firm Mirror Worlds. However, Judge Leonard Davis overturned the verdict saying that the claimant had failed to properly make their case. The original fine was one of the biggest ever for patent infringement.

Eurozone raises interest rate

European Central Bank increases eurozone interest rates for the first time since 2008 and admits it will be "unwelcome" for weaker economies. The increase in eurozone interest rates had been widely expected by markets and had been expected to mark the start of a series of rate rises by the ECB. Analysts said the ECB was concerned about the impact of rising oil and commodity prices on inflation. Meanwhile, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee has kept UK interest rates once more at a record low of 0.5%.

Portugal bail-out terms discussed by finance ministers

The European Union will discuss the size and terms of Portugal's bail-out on Friday after receiving a formal request for aid late on Thursday. EU finance ministers at a two-day summit in Budapest are likely to consider the scope of a potential deal. But there is doubt about whether Portugal's caretaker government can agree to the austerity measures that would be a prerequisite for the loans. ECB - European Central Bank has said that it encouraged crisis-hit Portuguese authorities to seek financial aid. The rates raised to 1.25% may add to the problems of debt-ridden countries. Rescue loans could amount to as much as 80bn euros ($115bn). The heart of the problem is that Europe has become, in part, a low-growth area. Portugal follows Greece and the Irish Republic in seeking a bail-out. However, Spain was quick to say it would not be following these countries in seeking assistance.

Toyota and Microsoft to team up

Microsoft and Toyota announce plans to work together to bring internet services to Toyota vehicles.

Turkish authorities replace prosecutors in coup plot trials

Turkish authorities on Thursday replaced lead prosecutors in the Ergenekon coup investigations in response to criticism. The probe has resulted hundreds of arrests, with people awaiting or on trial, but has not yet delivered any verdicts. Among the hundreds arrested are 163 active and retired military officers. On Wednesday, the TAF - Turkish Armed Forces criticized the slow pace of the trials and exonerating evidence being ignored.

Kenya leaders appear before ICC to deny charges of ethnic killings

Three prominent Kenyans appeared before the ICC - International Criminal Court in The Hague on Thursday to hear the charges against them in connection with the violence that followed the December 2007 Kenyan general elections. Facing charges including murder, deportation, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and torture, the two suspended government ministers and one radio executive denied the allegations of stirring up ethnic hatred that left at least 1,200 people dead and half a million others forced from their homes. The three men are half of the group being called the Ocampo Six that allegedly orchestrated the violence, with the remaining three men facing similar proceedings in the ICC on Friday.

Finnish navy captures suspected pirates in Arabian Sea

The Finnish navy has captured 18 suspected pirates on a boat in the Arabian Sea. The navy has been patrolling the coast of Somalia since February, as part of a European anti-piracy operation. In the absence of an effective central government for two decades piracy has flourished in Somalia.

Federal judge sentences Somali pirate to 25 years in prison

A Somali pirate was sentenced by the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday to 25 years in prison for attacking a Danish ship off the coast of Somalia in 2008, for which he and other pirates received a $1.7m ransom. US DOJ - Department of Justice officials say Jama Idle Ibrahim, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit piracy and conspiracy to use a firearm during a violent crime, and other Somali men were armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades when they seized the Danish vessel M/V CEC Future and held its 13-member crew for ransom.

Berlusconi prostitution, abuse of power trial adjourns 10 minutes after opening

The trial for Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi on charges that he paid an underage prostitute for her services was adjourned Wednesday only 10 min. after opening in Milan. Berlusconi and Moroccan-born teenager Karima El Mahroug, known as Ruby, did not attend the trial. Berlusconi faces charges for abusing the power of his office and allegedly offering cash and jewels in exchange for sex with the 17-year-old Ruby, who is under the legal age of prostitution in Italy. In addition to the payments, Berlusconi also allegedly called police to secure Ruby's release while she was detained on an unrelated suspicion of theft. Both Ruby and Berlusconi maintain that the two never had sex, and Berlusconi denies the charges against him. Critics and supporters gathered outside the court as the trial commenced. Berlusconi's trial is scheduled to resume on May 31.

Court rules GPS tracking of sex offender did not violate Fourth Amendment

The Court of Appeals of Virginia on Tuesday upheld a conviction where police officers used a GPS device to track the movement of a suspect in a string of sexual assaults without obtaining a warrant. The state's second highest appellate court failed to address whether the Fourth Amendment generally requires a warrant in such a situation, ruling on narrower grounds that the police would have had access to the same evidence they used to convict the suspect without the GPS device and thus the evidence of sexual assault was excepted from the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.

Alabama House approves Arizona-style immigration bill

The Alabama State House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill to create an illegal immigration policy comparable to the controversial Arizona law. The bill, approved by a vote of 73-28, would grant state and local police broad powers to examine the immigration status of anyone detained, no matter what the charge. The bill also denies state services to illegal immigrants and requires businesses to check employees' immigration statuses through the E-Verify database.

Backgrounder - Fruit of the Poisonous Tree:

In criminal law, the doctrine that evidence discovered through unconstitutional means (such as a forced confession or illegal search and seizure), may not be used as evidence against a criminal defendant. For example, if a suspect is arrested but is not read the Miranda rights, then tells the police the location of stolen property, and the police then find the stolen property as a result of the interrogation, the stolen property is inadmissible because it was acquired through an unconstitutional interrogation.

Thousands arrested under state's new strangulation laws

In the first 15 weeks of NY's new strangulation laws, police and prosecutors around the state have charged 2,003 people with the new offenses, state officials announced on Thursday. Strangulation is a tactic of power and control that is very common in domestic violence situations. According to recent research, victims of strangulation are 10 times more likely to become homicide victims than victims who have not been strangled.

U.S. says HSBC helped rich tax dodgers

The U.S. Department of Justice said that HSBC in India helped potentially thousands of Americans dodge taxes, broadening the government's probe of banks suspected of helping tax dodgers beyond UBS AG.

  • Daily Press Review

Turkey says working on 'roadmap' to end Libya war
Al Arabiya, Online news, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Libyan rebels and residents flee Ajdabiya
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Libya: Rebels accuse Chadian government of backing Gaddafi
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Fear stalks Bahrain hospitals: medics
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

IDF strikes Gaza on day after school bus attack
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Arab uprisings break down media stereotypes
IPS Middle East, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Israelis, Palestinians, particularly youth, grow apathetic
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Indonesia criminalises people smuggling
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Yemen opposition responsible for political fatwa to storm Gov. institutions
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

EU discusses Portugal aid terms
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Financial firm expands to create 20 jobs in Kerry
BreakingNews.ie, Online news portal, Cork, Ireland

U.N. chief urges Gbagbo to leave
CNN International, London, England

Alcohol still causes cancer, even if you drink a 'safe' amount
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Gaddafi attacked Misrata civilians: Libyan defector
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

IVORY COAST: Pro-Ouattara forces blockade Gbagbo's bunker
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Former pupil kills 11 in shooting at Rio school
Independent The, London, England

German trade surplus narrows
Irish Times The, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

9 Russians in fight to keep citizenship
Moscow Times The, Independent daily, Moscow, Russia

Nato 'sorry' for Libya rebel airstrike deaths
Sky News, Independent newscaster, Middlesex, England

Judge 'was drunk at paedo trial', law watchdog told
Sun The, London, England

Death toll in RJ school shooting rises to 12
Antara News, News agency, Jakarta, Indonesia

FSC tells Farglory to develop idle land
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

What China's 1st aircraft carrier means for the region
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

D. Medvedev congratulated N. Nazarbayev on convincing victory at elections
Gazeta.kz, Official online newspaper, Kazakhstan

An artist's arrest draws the red line
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Setback for Modi as SC orders CBI to probe Prajapati case
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

It's always sunny in Mumbai, but citizens lacking Vitamin D
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

20 Taliban join peace process in Zabul
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

Australian Treasurer blocks Australia and Singapore stock exchange merger deal
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Philadelphia DA emerges from predecessor's shadow
Sify News, Chennai, India

CPI-ML attacks Nitish government on corruption
Thaindian News, Bangkok, Thailand

Toyota to restart all Japan plants from April 18
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Sarkozy 'threatened to smash an editor's face over Bruni quip'
Times of India, Conservative, New Delhi, India

A Mama and a Papa in Dominican presidential politics
Dominican Today, Independent daily, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Pandora for Android: Example of data-leaching flipside of apps
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

COLOMBIA: Court documents reveal Chiquita paid for security
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Bond downgrade is a warning to Nokia stockholders
Motley Fool The, Financial, Virginia, U.S

Woman, 95, cheated out of $7,000 by phony repair man
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Govt stops 'corrupt' blood donor system
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Actor Wayne Robson dead at 65
Vancouver Sun The, Conservative, Vancouver, Canada

Call to end Ivory Coast sanctions
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

UN names some of the victims of deadly plane crash
CongoPlanet.com, Independent online news aggregator

EC: No electronic voting in 2012
GhanaWeb, Online news portal, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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