April 29, 2011  nº 1.034 -  Vol. 9


"
Lose money for my firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless."

Warren Buffet
about the recent Sokol /
Lubrisol situation

In today's Law Firm Marketing, How to craft a unique advertising message for a common product or service?

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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

Federal judge dismisses health care lawsuit

A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to the federal health care reform law for lack of standing. The suit was brought by Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and six other citizens who alleged that the PPACA - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violates provisions of both the US and Missouri constitutions. Judge Rodney Sippel dismissed the suit, finding that the plaintiffs lack standing: "To whatever extent Plaintiffs allege an injury to the sovereign interests of the State of Missouri, they do not have standing to bring these claims because Plaintiffs, including Kinder, bring this case as individuals. As the Supreme Court has observed, a plaintiff "generally must assert his own legal rights and interests and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties." ... While the State of Missouri may have standing to assert the claim in Count I, it is not a party to this action and Plaintiff Kinder and the other Plaintiffs do not and cannot bring this action on behalf of Missouri." Kinder has said that he plans to file an appeal.

Big law firms' profits and revenues rise

The Big Law profit machine is revving up again. The American Lawyer magazine's annual list of profit and revenue at the nation's top 100 law firms, to be published on Thursday, will show that both increased last year. The most closely watched measure, PPP - profit per partner, rose 8.4 % in 2010, to an average of $1.36 m. That was a sharp improvement from 2008, when profit per partner fell 4.3 %, and 2009, when it edged up just 0.3 %. The jump was a surprise even for the magazine's editors. "A year ago, people in the law firm world were not confident that we would see profits per partner as high as they ended up being." Gross revenue rose 4 % in 2010, compared with a 3.4 % decline in 2009. Gross revenue totaled $67.42 bn for the Am Law 100, and 17 firms grossed more than $1 bn — four more than in 2009.

Law firms trim their ranks to boost profits

The big firms in American Lawyer's rankings are changing their business models. Even partners aren't safe now. In boom times, law firms bill tons of hours advising companies on mergers and acquisitions. When things go bust, they rake in fees presented by bankruptcies, reorganizations, and shareholder lawsuits. Yet the billable-hours set was hit especially hard by the crash of 2008 and is only now recovering. Law firms' fortunes rose last year in part because of the economic recovery, which allowed firms to bill more hours and discount fees less. What's most notable in the data is the extent to which firms drove profitability by cutting head count—even expensive, but historically untouchable, partners. Shedding attorneys is not unprecedented. Firms jettisoned lawyers after the dot-com crash. What's "stunning" about last year is both the rate of head-count reduction and its breadth across seniority. Previously, firms closed offices, shed support staff, and cut back on perks. Now they've taken an ax to some of the senior lawyers, too. What was once taboo—laying off lawyers and cutting a variety of other costs out of the enterprise—became more mainstream. During the recession, many clients resisted having their accounts handled largely by junior associates, whose relatively low salaries make them profitable for firms, says Bruce MacEwen, a consultant on law firm economics in New York. "If that prop is removed and the law firm wants to keep its PPP up, it has to finally cut equity partners, the denominator," explains MacEwen. "The decrease in that leverage is a secular trend, and I think it's here to stay."

Arbitration Express

Supreme Court rules federal arbitration law preempts state law

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 5-4 in AT&T v. Concepcion that the FAA - Federal Arbitration Act, which provides for judicial facilitation of private dispute resolution through arbitration when the transaction involves interstate commerce, preempts states from enforcing alternate solutions when arbitration clauses are considered unconscionable. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the FAA does not preempt a California unconscionability law, which allowed a class action against AT&T mobile despite a contractual clause prohibiting such proceedings. Reversing the Ninth Circuit, justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority that, "[s]tates cannot require a procedure that is inconsistent with the FAA, even if it is desirable for unrelated reasons." Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissent. In 2002, Vincent and Liza Concepcion purchased a discounted cellular telephone from AT&T and later accused the company of false advertising and fraud upon discovery that they had been charged sales tax on the device's full value. Despite an arbitration clause in their service contract, the couple brought a federal class action suit against the company. Counsel for the Concepcions urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court rulings, arguing, in part, that the California law is valid because it "[ensures] that arbitration is a matter of consent and not coercion, and that it represents merely a choice of forum, but not an exemption from the law."

The role of the ECJ Case-Law

The Max-Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance, the PwC Chair in Tax Law of the Catholic University of Louvain and the Tax Institute of the University of Lie`ge are pleased to invite you to the Congress on European Tax Law : "Beyond Discrimination : The role of the ECJ Case-Law in the International Division of Taxing Powers in Direct Taxation" that will be held on 19-20 May 2011 in Brussels. For additional information and registration, please click here.

Visit our new ‘Magic Eye' page and boost your career

Migalhas International, with the support of executive search firms, brings the best career and professional development opportunities to its readers. We call this service the "Magic Eye". Page Personnel is a recruitment company specializing in professional technical and management support positions. Click here to go to our special webpage and find your next lease on life.

  • Crumbs

1 - Sony PlayStation hack hits over 700,000 Australians - click here.

2 - Court hands out stiff penalty to ringtone providers - click here.

3 - Ecuadorans in Chevron lawsuit seek Kaplan's recusal for bias - click here.

4 - Defamation suit against CBS goes to D.C. circuit - click here.

5 - Lindsay Lohan gets 120-day jail sentence for violating probation - click here.

6 - Diamond Lake hedge fund founder Kim sued over $2m in compensation - click here.

7 - Beyonce backed out of video game deal, says game maker - click here.

8 - J&J to buy Synthes for $21.6bn - click here.

9 - Small businesses fret over food-safety rules - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

FBI says Chinese hackers stealing from U.S. business

The FBI says that online scams from China are responsible for businesses losing $11 m dollars this past year. Chinese hackers hijack the credentials to wire money through malicious emails and websites opened by employees. No level of cyber protection can prevent user error.

China's one-child plan faces new fire

China's latest census shows the nation's population is aging rapidly and its growth rate has declined sharply, raising new questions about the government's unwillingness to abandon its one-child policy.

  • Law Firm Marketing

How to craft a unique advertising message for a common product or service

by Tom Trush

About 80 years ago, Claude Hopkins had a problem you probably faced at some point during your business career.  

The advertising writer had just landed a campaign with a struggling company. But the fact that the company had trouble attracting the customers they wanted was only a minor issue.

The primary problem was the product -- it was anything but unique. Several companies shared what essentially was an identical product. In fact, the product was so common that it was already in homes and taverns throughout the United States.

The new client was Schlitz and the product was beer. 

At the time, Schlitz held fifth place in its industry. The strategy you're about to read propelled the Milwaukee brewer into a tie for first after only a few months. 

Schlitz's rise to prominence has been called the greatest success in beer advertising. Not only do you see beer's biggest brands using the same strategy today, but it's also something you can apply to any business.

When Hopkins began studying other beer companies, he noticed they all announced the same claim in their advertising -- "pure." In his book, "My Life in Advertising," Hopkins explained how brewers would publicize the word in big letters. Some would even buy double-page ads so "pure" was displayed as large as possible.

Hopkins recognized the claim had little effect on prospects. So he went to a Schlitz brewery in search of a solution ... 

Once there, he saw plate-glass rooms filled with filtered air where beer dripped over pipes. The process allowed the beer to cool in purity. 

Next, he saw large filters packed with white-wood pulp, and then watched how every pump and pipe was cleaned twice daily to avoid contamination. Even the bottles were washed four times by machinery. 

Although the brewery sat on the shores of Lake Michigan, Hopkins saw how Schlitz tapped artesian wells to collect pure water from 4,000 feet below the ground. He was also shown vats where beer aged for six months before it went to users. 

A stop in the laboratory revealed how the yeast used in Schlitz beer was developed from an original cell that required 1,200 experiments before the finest taste was discovered.

Once back at the office, Hopkins asked, "Why don't you tell people these things? Why do you merely try to cry louder than others that your beer is pure? Why don't you tell the reasons?"

"Why?" was the response. "The processes we use are just the same as others use. No one can make good beer without them."

Hopkins had a hunch people would respond to reading how Schlitz achieved "pure" beer. So he used print ads to tell stories that gave purity meaning. 

Here are a couple of those ads: 

  1. Schlitz: In Filtered Air - click here.

  2. Schlitz: Perfection of 50 Years - click here.

Notice how Hopkins supported his claims with specific facts and didn't assume prospects knew information his client believed was common knowledge. Too often, we're so close to our products and services that it's difficult to realize what prospects truly understand.

Also, Hopkins was a master at educating his readers. When you walk away from reading one of his ads, you feel a little wiser. 

And, finally, Hopkins wasn't hesitant about using long copy. He understood prospects crave as much information as possible before making a purchase. After all, who would ever handicap a salesman by allowing him to speak only a certain number of words?

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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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  • Brief News

Banks rush to improve foreclosure practices

Under orders from U.S. regulators, 14 financial institutions have until mid-June to lay out plans to clean up their mortgage-servicing operations—and another 60 days to make the changes. But progress is uneven.

Judges question evidence on detainees

 A side-by-side comparison of the Pentagon's secret Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs and federal court rulings shows that intelligence analysts and federal judges can reach starkly opposing conclusions from the same raw intelligence. The Pentagon's threat profiles suggest little doubt about the prisoners' alleged terrorism record, but in some cases, federal judges have been unimpressed by those conclusions. Significant discrepancies between the views of the intelligence analysts who wrote the detainee threat assessments and the judges who analyzed them as part of the habeas process are evident in many detainee cases. An intelligence analyst has to worry about getting as much information from a detainee as possible and may therefore have a reason to keep that detainee locked up. At Guantanamo, there was also an enormous volume of material. The analysts had hundreds of detainees to review. Those who decided which detainees were dangerous may not have had the time to assess thoroughly the information on which they based their decisions.

Royalty, Schmoyalty: revolting against the wedding

"Of all the annoying things about the royal wedding — the crass materialism, the outrageous invasion of a young couple's privacy, the bad TV — none is more troubling, than the occasion this event gives for the non-English to transform themselves into besotted Anglophilic wusses," Mark Oppenheimer recently wrote in Slate.

U.S. economic growth slows

The U.S. economy slowed sharply in the first three months of the year as high gas prices cut into consumer spending, bad weather delayed construction projects and the federal government slashed defense spending by the most in six years. The U.S. dollar fell Thursday to its lowest point since the summer of 2008, but officials aren't showing signs that they are alarmed by the currency's descent or acting to stem it.

Fatah, Hamas deal could affect Mideast peace process

There have been upheavals and challenges to the status quo across the Arab world — but not when it comes to the Palestinians, who have been in a stalemate in the peace process with Israel for months. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to jump-start a push for statehood. But some believe that initiative could be derailed by a new reconciliation accord between Abbas and the Islamist militants of Hamas, who remain strongly opposed to peace with Israel.

India censoring free speech online

India's Department of Technology has passed new rules that will limit free speech on the Internet within the country. The rules let the government force providers to block any web content it finds objectionable. The list of acceptable objections includes anything that is blasphemous or threatens the state.

Oklahoma Senate approves legislation targeting undocumented workers

The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved HB 1446, a bill creating a criminal penalty for undocumented workers who hold jobs and criminalizing the transportation of those workers into the state. The bill, written by Representative George Faught (R) and Senator Ron justice (R), makes it a misdemeanor for undocumented immigrants to hold jobs or apply for jobs in the state. In addition to criminalizing certain actions in relation to immigration status, the bill gives police more power to question an individual's immigration status if they suspect an individual is in the country illegally. It also repeals a law allowing illegal immigrants to qualify to pay in-state tuition costs at the state's public universities. The bill was approved by the Oklahoma House last month and will be sent to Governor Mary Fallin (R) once differences between the House and Senate bills are reconciled.

Bahrain protesters sentenced to death over police killings

A court in Bahrain on Thursday sentenced four protesters to death for their roles in the killing of two police officers. Three others were sentenced to life in prison. The killings were committed last month during mass anti-government protests. Rights activists have expressed concern that the verdict could lead to intensified protests and violence. AI - Amnesty International has condemned the trial as unfair, urging a halt to the executions.

Toyota judge tentatively rules that automaker must face claims over losses

A US federal judge overseeing lawsuits against Toyota Motor Corp. said in a tentative ruling that the automaker must face economic loss claims over unintended acceleration allegations.

Google sued by Android phone users over alleged tracking of location data

Two Android phone users sued Google over claims their phones secretly recorded and stored data about their movements. They claim their phones track their whereabouts "just as if by a tracking device for which a court-ordered warrant would ordinarily be required." The plaintiffs seek to represent other Android phone users in a class-action lawsuit, as well as at least $50 m in damages and a court order requiring Google to stop tracking its products' users. Google and Apple are facing scrutiny from consumers and lawmakers over the collection of data on smart phones. Both companies have agreed to testify at a May 10 Senate hearing about consumer privacy on mobile devices. 

Jobs says Apple made mistakes with iPhone data

Hoping to put to rest a growing controversy over privacy, Steven Jobs, Apple's chief executive, took the unusual step of personally explaining that while Apple had made mistakes in how it handled location data on its mobile devices, it had not used the iPhone and iPad to keep tabs on the whereabouts of its customers. Jobs said that Apple was locating Wi-Fi and cell towers, not users, but would curb the practice and shorten storage time.  "We haven't been tracking anybody," Mr. Jobs said in an interview on Wednesday. "Never have. Never will." Jobs said that Apple would fix the mistakes in a free software update that it would release in the next few weeks.

Buffett's silence on Sokol to end

At the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway this weekend, Warren Buffett is expected to say he doesn't condone the conduct of David Sokol, one of his former top lieutenants, in purchasing stock in a company that Berkshire eventually bid for.The company's directors on Wednesday issued a scathing report that accused Sokol of violating the company's ethics and insider trading policies. The SEC is investigating Sokol's trading. Sokol and Buffett, meanwhile, face a lawsuit from a Berkshire shareholder who wants Sokol to forfeit his trading profits in Lubrizol because of the damage done to Berkshire's reputation. Berkshire does have another remedy at its disposal: suing Sokol to recover any damage the company has sustained, or his trading profits.  

Costa Rica court sentences ex-president to prison on corruption charges

A Costa Rican court on Wednesday found the country's former president Miguel Angel Rodriguez guilty of corruption charges and sentenced him to five years imprisonment. Rodriguez, who also served as Secretary General of the OAS - Organization of American States, accepted more than $800,000 in bribes from global telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent during his presidency, in exchange for a deal with the ICE - Costa Rican Electricity Institute that would allow the company to place 400,000 cell phone lines in the country.

Argentina aims to tighten farm-land ownership rules

Argentina's government s sponsoring legislation that would place strict foreign-ownership limits on arable and rural lands, potentially throwing cold water on a frenzy of farmland acquisitions by foreigners in recent years.

Supreme Court AT&T ruling could prevent class-action lawsuits

The U.S. Supreme Court recently made a ruling that could prevent people from filing class-action lawsuits against companies. The ruling upheld AT&T's claim that its contract requires customers to solve disputes through arbitration. If this practice becomes widespread, will disgruntled consumers even bother disputing charges?

Rajaratnam trial: No word from jury on Day 4

Apart from the murmur of voices and bursts of laughter, nothing was heard on Thursday from 12 jurors studying the evidence in hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam's high-profile insider trading trial. Unlike the past three days of deliberations, no notes emerged from the jury room in Manhattan federal court asking for exhibits or to hear replays of FBI phone taps central to what U.S. prosecutors call the biggest probe of insider trading at hedge funds on record.

Air France flight recorder empty

Part of a flight recorder from the Air France jet that crashed in 2009 en route from Brazil is found but without its data section.

Wal-Mart to bring back guns to hundreds of US stores

Wal-Mart has said it will soon bring back the sale of firearms, including rifles and shotguns, at more than 500 of its US stores. The retail giant stopped selling guns at hundreds of its 3,600 US stores in 2006, citing slumping consumer demand. But a spokesman said guns would return to the shelves as "part of the overall push to bring 8,000 products back". Thursday's news comes two months after Wal-Mart announced a seventh straight quarterly decline in US sales.

  • Daily Press Review

Morocco probe says Marrakech attack was 'terrorist,' while death toll rises to nearly 20
Al Arabiya, Online news, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Obama pledges aid to tornado-ravaged region
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Pakistan secure ODI series win over Windies
Arab News, Pro-government, Jidda, Saudi Arabia

'Criminal' Marrakesh blast kills 14
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Israeli woman and Jewish husband killed in Morocco terror attack
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

2 Jews among 15 killed in Morroco suicide bombing
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Memory of Diana dominates royal wedding
Times of Oman, English-language daily, Muscat, Oman

Al-Qaeda in Yemen kills military amid tribal-brokered truce
Yemen Observer, Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

Crowds gather for royal wedding
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

U.S. resumes normal Egypt operations
CNN International, London, England

UK: Crowds head to Westminster as royal wedding kicks off
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Ankara mulls post-Assad scenarios, eyes all options for Syria
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Couple admit to kidnap and rape of Jaycee Dugard
Independent The, London, England

Samsung faces 'challenging' outlook
Irish Times The, Centrist daily, Dublin, Ireland

Russian jet misses out on big Indian contract
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Lindsay Lohan is going to give acting lessons to the homeless, need we say any more?
OK! Magazine UK, Celebrity news, London, England

We will not - and must not - forget about Afghanistan
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Fed chief holds court, signals end of stimulus plan
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Majority rejects PAC draft report, Joshi walks out
Hindu The, Left-leaning daily, Chennai, India

AI pilots strike: PMO talks tough, partial lockout on table
India Express, News portal, Mumbai, India

Two charged in Australian military sex scandal
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

3 ISAF soldiers killed in blasts
Pajhwok Afghan News, (Independent news agency), Kabul, Afghanistan

Fidel Castro says Libya's resistance to NATO airstrikes 'amazing'
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Record number of Latinos voted in US last year
Sify News, Chennai, India

Ex-Citi exec readies $50m Greater China hedge fund
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Pakistan tests Hatf-8 cruise missile
Times of India, Conservative, New Delhi, India

Expatriates challenged to contribute more
Caribbean360, Online news portal, St. Michael, Barbados

Controversial Philippines ombudsman resigns
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

RIGHTS-BRAZIL: Amnesty international calls for end to police violence
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Tax breaks - Shaw revamps several tax policies to boost economy
Jamaica Gleaner, Independent daily, Kingston, Jamaica

Libya angers Tunisia as war briefly crosses border
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Cop in court on rape charge
Trinidad Guardian, Independent daily, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Moroccans probe Marrakesh blast
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Darfur draft peace agreement reflects the spirit of the talks - LJM rebels
Sudan Tribune, Khartoum, Sudan

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