October 21, 2011 nº 1,104 - Vol. 9


"
The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."

Vidal Sassoon

In today´s Law Firm Marketing, 11 ways to turn your fee and billing policies into a competitive advantage.

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  • Top News

Holder calls for unveiling most grand jury transcripts after 30 years

Few legal procedures are more sacrosanct secret than a witness´s testimony before a grand jury. But in its latest bid to open government records, the Obama administration is moving to make public grand jury transcripts that are at least 30 years old. Public interest in accessing history outweighs need for secrecy, it says. Attorney General Eric Holder has written to the committee of judges responsible for the Federal Rules for Criminal Procedure, calling for an end to a rule that criminalizes the disclosure of grand jury information after three decades if such disclosure doesn´t affect an investigative target or witness who is still alive. He told the committee that all grand jury materials that are historically significant should be made public after 75 years. There are many important reasons to maintain grand jury secrecy, Holder added, but "they do not forever trump all competing considerations. After a suitably long period, in cases of enduring historical importance, the need for continued secrecy is eventually outweighed by the public´s legitimate interest in preserving and accessing the documentary legacy of our government."

EU regulators raid banks in anti-competition inquiry

A number of banks across Europe have had their offices raided by European Union regulators in an anti-competition investigation. The European Commission´s competition department said it was looking into a possible cartel at the unnamed lenders. It is investigating whether the banks manipulated the interest rates charged when they lend each other euro loans. The EBF - European Banking Federation banking trade body said it had "nothing to hide".

Top U.S. banks accused of colluding on ATM fees

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo worked with Visa and MasterCard to artificially set transaction prices on ATM fees. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., is the third such suit seeking class action status on the issue of automated teller machine fees in the past week. The latest suit alleges the banks worked with Visa and MasterCard to set artificially high rates on ATM fees.

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  • Crumbs

1 - Obama: ´Gaddafi death ends painful chapter for Libyans´ - click here.

2 - Woman sues IBM for $1.1m over claim she was told to ´get breasts out´ - click here.

3 - US man sues Burger King over needles - click here.

4 - Bieber´s girl Gomez granted restraining order - click here.

5 - Wedding singers so loud they made guests sick - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

China to allow local bond sales

China allows four local governments to sell bonds for the first time in 17 years, in a move to help them pay their debts.

China to control shadow banking

The CBRC - China Banking Regulatory Commission has said it is looking to curb the rise of shadow banking and private lending in the country. The commission was taking measures to ensure such activities do not put the financial system at risk. There have been concerns that private loans are hurting the government´s effort to control lending.

  • Law Firm Marketing

11 ways to turn your fee and billing policies into a competitive advantage

by Trey Ryder

One important purpose of marketing is to show that your services are well worth your fee.

You want prospective clients to conclude that you have such in-depth knowledge, skill, judgment and experience that they would be foolish to hire any lawyer other than you.

Whether someone hires your services boils down to the value/price equation, which says: A prospective client will hire your services as long as he believes that the value he receives from you is (1) greater than the price he pays, and (2) greater than the value he would receive from another lawyer for the same price.

Value is not a fact; it´s a perception. If your client thinks he´s getting value from you, he is. If he thinks he isn´t, he isn´t. Truth and fact have nothing to do with value. It´s all in your client´s mind. How your client perceives value can differ greatly from how you perceive it.

When a client opens your invoice, his value/price radar is at full alert. If he doesn´t have a good idea of the amount you´re billing, he can do little more than hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

You´ve heard people talk about near-death experiences, reporting that their lives passed before their eyes. For some clients, opening your invoice is akin to a near-death experience. As your client slits open the envelope, he replays in his mind all the things you have done for him during the latest billing period. As he nears the final number at the bottom of the page, he asks himself one last time, "Is the amount I benefited from my lawyer more or less than the amount I owe?"

You always want your client to feel that the value he receives from you is greater than the price he pays. Part of how your client perceives your value -- and responds to your invoice -- is based on how you bill.

Here are 11 ways to turn your billing policies into a competitive advantage:

Way #1: When possible, offer your client his choice of fee and billing options. Clients often believe your fee is one area that is completely beyond their control. When you allow clients to choose the way you calculate your fee, they are usually happier and more comfortable with the outcome because they took part in making the decision.

Way #2: Show your client what your fee could be under the various methods you offer. Then help your client see which method benefits him most. The more you explain your fee and your client´s options, the more your client sees that you are trying to help him make the decision that suits him best.

Way #3: Provide a detailed description of the services you performed by each entry on your invoice. A direct relationship exists between detail and credibility. The more facts you include that describe what you did, the more credibility you give to your invoice. In the alternative, the less information you provide, the less credibility your bill has, which increases your client´s skepticism.

Way #4: Don´t charge for everything you do. Your client really likes to see N.C.s on your invoice. They may reflect a quick e-mail response or a quick question you answered on the phone. Whatever task you performed, the N.C. helps balance the figures that appear for the more time-consuming services.

Way #5: Bill for in-office incidentals only when your client exceeds his monthly allowance. Charging clients for what they believe is routine office overhead always results in bad feelings. Specifically, clients see photocopies as the flag bearers of inflated charges. While many clients won´t raise the issue -- for fear of being labeled cheap or unfair -- copies are usually a sore point because nearly everyone knows what photocopies cost.

When your client sees a bill for photocopying, he thinks: At my down-the-street copy place, I can make a self-serve copy for five cents. Yet my lawyer charges me 50 cents per copy. This is clearly unfair. It´s the same complaint people lodge against hospitals. I can buy an aspirin at the store for ten cents. But on my hospital bill the charge for one aspirin is $4.

Here´s the greater problem: When your client sees a charge that he thinks is excessive, he can´t help but think your other fees and charges could be excessive as well. It´s like when a lawyer catches a witness in a lie. No matter how small the lie, it puts that person´s credibility in question. If you ordinarily charge for incidentals, try this instead: Set a monthly overhead allowance for each client based on the amount of fees you expect to collect from that client. This allows you to absorb routine overhead up to the maximum you set, without having to foot the bill for excessive costs.

Way #6: Bill for rapid delivery only when the fast service is at your client´s request and not the result of your tardiness. A lawyer once charged me for a Federal Express shipment because I told him I needed the documents in a hurry. The problem was, he had promised the documents to me two weeks earlier and FedEx would not have been necessary had the lawyer finished the work on time. When I brought this to his secretary´s attention, she gladly removed the charge.

Way #7: Bill outside services at their actual cost. I started this years ago and clients regularly mention how much they appreciate it. I tell clients that when they hire me, they have full access to my suppliers and business contacts at my cost. I don´t mark up any outside services. Since many marketing and advertising consultants mark up outside services by 100 percent or more, my at-cost policy adds value to my services.

Way #8: Proofread every bill. Clients expect that you prepare your invoice with the same care and attention that you use to perform legal services. A mistake on your invoice arouses suspicion that you might also make mistakes in their documents. In item #6 above, where my lawyer´s delay resulted in FedEx charges on my bill, my lawyer had actually billed me twice for the same FedEx shipment on the same invoice. This lawyer was very smart, but when I saw how little attention he paid to my bill, I could not risk continuing to use his services.

Way #9: Always discuss fees and charges in advance, before prospects hire you. Fees are always a sensitive issue, even if your client doesn´t bring up the subject. Show every prospect that you want to be up-front about fees and how you bill. Start by explaining everything in advance. Give your prospect a written schedule of fees and charges. State everything in a positive, supportive way. Help your prospects see that hiring you is a good business decision. How you charge should be one of your strongest competitive advantages. If you find something about your invoice or billing method that clients don´t like or don´t understand, change it so clients see how your billing practices work to their benefit.

Way #10: Always discuss potential problems in advance. If something unforeseen happens -- or causes an unexpected increase in your client´s bill -- take a few moments to call and explain it to your client. If you can offer your client different ways of handling the matter, make that clear as well. The last place your client wants a surprise is when he opens "the envelope." If you think your client might perceive your invoice in a negative way, call him and discuss it. Explain what you recommend. Ask if your client agrees with your solution, or if he would like you to review other options.

Way #11: Invite questions about your invoices. Make sure prospects and clients know that you are eager to explain anything on an invoice they don´t understand. Admit that you might make a mistake and that you welcome the opportunity to review any invoice that raises a question. If you don´t willingly discuss fees, one day you may find that your client leaves you without explanation. And, truth be told, the reason may be because he thought you always overcharged him -- or because he never understood your invoices.

You can gain a competitive edge over other lawyers by (1) calculating fees and charges in ways that favor your clients, and (2) discussing those methods openly and in advance. Lawyers who hesitate to discuss fees may discover that their clients look elsewhere for legal services. But lawyers who discuss fees and explain how they charge add value to their services and seize yet another major competitive advantage.

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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

Banca I

El banco canadiense Scotiabank compró la financiera Colpatria en US$ 1.000 mlls. en acciones y efectivo. Los ejecutivos dijeron que ve más oportunidades de compra en Colombia.

Banca II

El banco español Santander informó hoy que ha dado entrada en el capital de su filial Santander Consumer USA a nuevos socios, logrando una pusvalía de aproximadamente US$ 1.000 mills. Tras la ampliación, Santander tendrá una participación del 65 por ciento en Santander Consumer USA, Sponsor Auto Finance Holdings Series un 25% y Dundon DFS un 10%.

Pemex

La petrolera estatal de México, Pemex, readjudicó el contrato para operar el campo petrolero Carrizo a la empresa Dowell Schlumberger, luego de que la ganadora original de la histórica licitación falló en presentar documentos. (Presione aquí)

  • Brief News

US Senate blocks key job proposal

The US Senate has failed to pass a key piece of President Barack Obama´s jobs bill that would have seen higher taxes on the rich help create jobs for teachers, police and emergency workers. "Protecting millionaires and defeating President Obama are more important to my Republican colleagues than creating jobs and getting our economy back on track," said Democrat Harry Reid. But Republicans said raising taxes was not the way to create jobs and stimulate growth. "The fact is we´re not going to get this economy going again by growing the government. It´s the private sector that´s ultimately going to drive this recovery," said Republican Mitch McConnell. Other parts of Mr Obama´s jobs bill, which includes investment in infrastructure projects, extending benefits for long-term unemployed, tax breaks for firms taking on new workers and measures to broaden home ownership, have yet to be voted on.

Libya plans secret Gaddafi burial

Libyan authorities plan a secret burial within the next few hours for ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, following his capture and death. Earlier, officials said Col Gaddafi had been killed in crossfire after being captured in his birthplace of Sirte. Nato is expected to declare an end to its Libya campaign in the coming hours. Obama said the death of Qaddafi vindicates his brand of coalition-based global leadership and his decision to team up with allies to oust the Libyan leader.

Gadhafi´s death staves off legal mess

There is a more legal spin on the death of Gadhafi. What would have happened, the newspaper asks, if he were captured alive? Well, Gadhafi´s detention would have likely pitted Libya´s National Transitional Council against the demands of international justice, for starters. The country´s justice minister had repeatedly insisted that Gadhafi would stand trial in Libya. On the other hand, the international criminal court in the Hague issued a warrant against Gaddafi this year, charging him with using brutal force while suppressing demonstrations in February. The solution could have been messy and drawn out. International lawyers said a compromise could have seen a trial in Tripoli paid for by the U.N. and conducted under the auspices of national and international law. But before that tangle, Libya would have had to rebuild a legal system that scarcely exists. Meanwhile, from captivity, Gadhafi could have undermined democratic elections and rallied loyalists.

Eta says armed campaign is over

The Basque separatist group Eta says it has called a "definitive cessation" to its campaign of bombings and shootings. The declaration, if followed through, would bring an end to Eta´s campaign of violence, which has lasted more than 40 years and killed more than 800 people.

8 lessons from the women on Wall Street Conference

The Women on Wall Street conference, hosted annually by Deutsche Bank since 1995, is one of DealBook´s favorite shindigs of the year. Last year, we took note of the many red-soled Christian Louboutin shoes and immaculate pantsuits worn by attendees. And this year, we were promised an even better time, thanks to confirmed appearances by some of the biggest female names in business: among them, Anne Marie Petach, the chief financial officer of BlackRock, and Katherine Garrett-Cox, the chief executive of Alliance Trust, the Scottish investment firm. Here, a list of eight things we learned.

Greek MPs pass austerity measures

The Greek parliament has given its final approval to the latest package of austerity measures. The approval comes despite two days of violent protests against its provisions, which include cutting public sector wages and raising taxes. The bill includes plans for further cuts to pensions and salaries and temporary lay-offs of 30,000 public sector workers. The government´s bill is needed to secure EU and IMF bailout loans.

Brazil cuts interest rates despite rising inflation

Brazil´s central bank has cut the country´s key interest rate to 11.5% from 12%, citing the continuing slowdown in the global economy. The bank cut rates at the end of August, after raising them five times this year to combat rising prices. Despite the inflation rate rising to 7.3% in September, all seven members of the bank´s rate-setting committee voted for the latest cut.

Citigroup settles charges of misleading investors

Citigroup is paying $285m to settle civil fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC said that Citigroup misled investors when it invited them to invest in a product based on US mortgage debt. It said that Citigroup did not inform investors that it was betting on the value of the investment falling or that it had chosen the assets itself.

Controversy erupts over sex-segregated bus

New York City officials have told a bus company that carries passengers in a largely Hasidic Jewish section of Brooklyn that it must stop requiring female passengers to sit in the back. The issue has raised concerns about boundaries between religious and civil rights.

ACLU accuses FBI of illegal racial profiling

Using FOIA-obtained memos, the group said the FBI profiled entire ethnic communities, exploiting a loophole meant to restrict such tactics to terrorism and border security investigations.

Chile students disrupt Senate meeting to press demands

Dozens of Chilean students interrupted a meeting at the Senate headquarters in Santiago to press their call for a referendum on Chile´s social problems. The students broke in as lawmakers and the education minister were discussing next year´s budget.

UK top judge: national courts not bound by Europe rights court

The UK´s top judge, Lord chief justice of England and Wales Lord Igor judge, said on Wednesday that UK courts are not bound by decisions from the ECHR - European Court of Human Rights. Speaking before the Lords Constitution Committee, judge suggested that while UK courts are not required to follow the ECHR, they should consider ECHR decisions when deciding cases. UK Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips countered judge, saying that ECHR decisions will always control UK courts as long as the Human Rights Act of 1998, which ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, remains in effect. UK PM David Cameron has expressed frustration at previous ECHR decisions and may use the UK´s upcoming presidency of the Council of Europe to influence changes in the court.

UK to protect foreign secret material from courts

The move comes after a legal loophole allowed a UK court to order the release of U.S. intelligence material last year.

Convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk claims US withheld evidence

Lawyers for convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk filed a request in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for a hearing to determine whether the FBI failed to turn over evidence that could have assisted Demjanjuk´s case. Demjanjuk was convicted in Germany in May on more than 28,000 counts of accessory to murder. Demjanjuk argues that the US government failed to turn over a 1985 FBI report suggesting that his Nazi ID card used against him at trial could potentially have been a Soviet-made fake. Demjanjuk requested a stay in his trial to investigate the FBI report but was denied by the trial judge. After his conviction in May, Germany denied a request from Spain to have Demjanjuk extradited so that he could stand trial in Spain on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Canada Supreme Court: Hyperlinks cannot libel

The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously ruled that online publications cannot be found liable for linking to defamatory material. The decision effectively shields anyone who publishes a link, as long as the linking itself is not defamatory. The case concerned a Vancouver businessman and political volunteer who claimed a site defamed him by linking to an libelous article.

Murdochs to face pressure at AGM

News Corp holds its AGM later, its first since the phone-hacking scandal broke in the UK, amid calls for the Murdochs to step aside. Tom Watson, the U.K. lawmaker who has led attacks on Rupert Murdoch´s News Corp. over phone- hacking, said he will make new revelations at the company´s annual meeting today in Los Angeles.

ICC requests explanation from Malawi for failure to arrest Sudan president

The ICC - International Criminal Court on Wednesday requested that the Republic of Malawi explain why that country´s authorities failed to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir during his widely reported visit there for a trade summit last weekend. Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC issued a resolution that asks Malawi authorities to report "any observations" regarding the country´s alleged failure to comply with cooperation requests sent by the ICC regarding arrest warrants for al-Bashir issued in 2009 and 2010.

Nasdaq hackers said to spy on corporate boards

Hackers who infiltrated the Nasdaq stock exchange´s network installed software that allowed them to spy on the boards of public companies.

Deloitte´s quandary: defy the S.E.C. or China

The S.E.C. is stepping up the pressure on Deloitte´s Shanghai affiliate, which is resisting turning over records about accounting fraud at a Chinese company.

Law firm sued in class action for online poker fees

The suit claims that Cozen O´Connor received more than $2m in fees from money laundered in a scheme orchestrated by the companies behind the website Full Tilt Poker.

Microsoft sued for monopoly abuse by Israeli firm

MiniFrame claims pressure from Microsoft forced large companies, like HP and JPMorgan, to drop plans to buy its products, costing it billions of dollars in sales.

  • Daily Press Review

Saudi ambassador to London attacks Iranian policy, describing it as irrational
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Gaddafi killed, Sirte taken
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

Iran says hopes Gadhafi death will lead to new political era in Libya
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

Abu Rudeineh: Abbas will offer Hamas January elections
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Libya plans secret Gaddafi burial
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

Flood waters seep into Thai capital
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Yue Yue, the two-year-old Chinese girl run over twice as bystanders watch, dies
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood moves on from Ana Araujo to blonde Nicola Sargent, 25
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Rallies held in Turkey for PKK attack victims
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

LIBYA: Gaddafi died of bullet wound, interim leaders say
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Spain hails ETA end to Basque separatist violence
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey

Video: Baby survives pram car crash
Independent The, London, England

Eco cars in, emission standards out
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Vincent Tabak: Joanna flirted with me and I made a clumsy pass at her
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger split
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Suvarnabhumi offers more parking spaces
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Hamilton helps Rangers rally past Cards
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Fermented Food Festival Kicks Off in Jeonju
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Death of Gaddafi marks ´new era´ for Libya: Clinton
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

´Over 50% engineering colleges are of poor quality´
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

PL teams against DeNA purchasing Yokohama BayStars
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Report: Chinese girl in hit-and-run video dies (graphic video)
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Clinton warns to pursue terrorists on Afghan-Pakistan borders
People´s Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Australian riot police break up ´Occupy´ protest
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

Live blog: Australia v Wales
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

What´s next for Libya? US President Obama: difficult days ahead
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

China Vice-Premier Li: Global risks rising
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

Moammar Gadhafi killed in crossfire, Libyan PM says
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

The ripple effects of Gadhafi’s death
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada

Competing Fiscal Plans Blocked in Deadlocked Senate
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

Brazil Active in Effort to Widen Global Access to Medicines
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Asian markets cautious ahead of Europe summit
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

Gaddafi killed in hometown, Libya eyes future
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

´Moammar Gadhafi has been killed:´ A despot´s final hours
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Libya plans secret Gaddafi burial
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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