June 30, 2006 n° 365 - Vol. 4

"Agree, for the law is costly."

William Camden (1551-1623)

How do ‘free reports’ refelct on your firm? Read our discussion in the today’s Law Firm Marketing issue.

  • Top News

US court makes no ruling on Varig

Varig has until July 21 to return part of its fleet to leasing companies, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge said, giving the bankrupt carrier time to come to terms with creditors as it negotiates a sale of the whole company. Judge Robert Drain in New York federal bankruptcy court said that Varig, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection for the past year, must submit a revised order detailing its plans, as the airline seeks a buyer in Brazil. Drain's refusal to rule against Varig means the extension last week of a preliminary injunction blocking the seizure of 25 of Varig's planes still stands. International Lease Finance Corp., a unit of American International Group Inc. Boeing Co. and other creditors, had argued that leased planes should be returned immediately. A lawyer representing Varig said that a previously agreed upon plan to return planes to creditors would be honored, but it was unclear if that would actually lead to the physical return of planes in the near future.

Bush refuses to abandon tribunals

Bush has refused to rule out military tribunals for inmates at Guantanamo Bay detention centre. His administration was dealt a blow on Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled it had overstepped its authority in setting up the tribunals. But Republican senators immediately began planning how to win congressional approval for new tribunals. In its ruling, the court said military tribunals contravened both the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners, and the US code of military justice. It also ruled that the tribunals were not expressly authorized by any congressional act, and there was no "sweeping mandate for the president to invoke military commissions whenever he deems them necessary". But the ruling does not demand the release of prisoners held at Guantanamo, and it does hold out the possibility of coming up with another way of trying those held.

Senate Committee Cuts Net Neutrality Amendment

The Senate Commerce Committee approved an all-encompassing telecommunications reform bill. It has been renamed the Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunity Reform Act. It addresses a wide range of communications-related issues, including municipal broadband services, interoperability funding and video franchise reform. As it is written, the legislation does not provide an "effective" policy on Internet neutrality, according to several senators, consumer advocate groups, and e-commerce corporations. "Right now under current law, there's nothing to stop the phone and cable companies from striking a deal to offer high-speed access to a company like Google and refusing to provide any deal at all to a different company like Yahoo," said Jeanine Kenney, senior policy analyst. "There's not even a rule on the books that would prevent them from blocking Web sites." An amendment to the bill was defeated in the Committee, which proposed to "ensure fair treatment of all Internet content." The amendment incorporated the following non-discriminatory principle: "to promote broadband deployment, and presence and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Internet, a broadband service provider shall not discriminate Internet traffic based on source, ownership, or destination of such traffic as part of any publicly available Internet offering."

A Paris Court Increases Fine on Google's Trademark Breach

French luxury-goods company LVMH said the Paris appeals court increased a fine previously levied on Google Inc.'s French unit for trademark violation to €300,000 ($377,500) from an initial €200,000. In February, a French court ruled against the Internet-search company in a lawsuit alleging that Google searches for LVMH-trademarked keyword terms brought up advertisements from businesses selling counterfeit LVMH goods. LVMH said it was satisfied by the decision to increase the fine. The company said that in addition to the fine, Google must reimburse €75,000 of LVMH's costs. A Google representative said that none of the issues in the case apply today and that the company doesn't allow people to advertise for counterfeit products. "Today's case does not raise any new issues whatsoever," the representative said.

FADUSP - English proficiency class

The Caldas Law Studies Center is organizing, starting this week, a special preparation class for candidates for the master or doctor degree at USP. Practical classes, drawing on specific translation techniques, text interpretation and exercises with previous tests. For more information, please visit CLSC at www.amaricanlaw.com.br. Migalhas International readers qualify for an entry for a free class draw.

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  • Law Firm Marketing

Marketing with “free reports” achieves little, reflects poorly on you

Look in almost any newspaper and you’ll see a FREE REPORT offered by a lawyer, chiropractor, real estate agent, plumber -- someone from nearly every profession and trade. The marketers selling the Free Report strategy to professionals have renewed the hope of service providers who have grown tired of a lackluster response from display ads.

On occasion, lawyers have asked me to review these free reports. If you’re thinking about using one of these reports, here are a few observations and concerns, based on the reports I’ve seen.


1. The free report gives you something tangible to offer, which you can send to the caller by mail. This allows you to identify the interested prospect by his name and address. (This is good, and one of the fundamental principles I use in education-based marketing.)

2. The free report is usually quite long. This gives you plenty of time to excite the reader and build momentum, so when the reader reaches the end, he will call for an appointment or take the desired action. (Long messages are usually more persuasive than short messages, so this is good.)

3. The free report usually explains the subject so the prospect better understands his problem, and sees you as one who can provide the solution. (This, too, is fundamental to the education-based marketing process.)

In short, the offer of a free report appears to be consistent with the education-based marketing model. But the free reports I’ve seen are not at all consistent with the my view of education-based marketing.


1. By its nature, the information in the report must be generic so marketers can sell it to lawyers (or other professionals) who offer a similar service. While generic information can help the reader understand the subject, nowhere does the report say anything specific about you. As a result, the reader doesn’t learn why he should hire you over any other lawyer. Competitively speaking, the free report falls flat.

2. The reports are usually written using high-pressure sales copy. The problem is, high-pressure sales copy turns off most people. It’s like a high-pressure salesman, only on paper. The people who respond best to high-pressure copy are those who have little education. The irony is that people who don’t have much education are the least likely to ask for information, such as a free report.

3. The high-pressure sales copy reflects poorly on you. Since you offer the report over your signature, the reader thinks these words are your words. Likewise, the reader thinks the letter’s sales pressure comes from you. Ask yourself, are you comfortable sending prospects a report written that is filled with high-pressure sales copy? To put the shoe on the other foot, would you respond positively and make an appointment if you called and received this report by mail?

No question, offering free educational materials works. Every marketing program I create relies on free written materials as a major component. But you must be sensitive to the exact wording and the tone of the writing. Educated prospects rarely respond to high pressure copy. Instead, educated prospects want clear explanations that make sense. They want you to respect the fact that they have a brain. They want you to explain their options. And they want to make their own decisions without any pressure from you.

Often these free reports cross that line and try to pressure prospects into taking action. And then, equally as bad, someone follows up by calling the prospects on the phone. When that happens, these prospects regard you the same way they regard other telemarketers.

So while educational handouts are a key tool in education-based marketing, the words you choose and the tone you set are critical to attracting new clients. The free reports I’ve reviewed don’t come anywhere close to the essence of education-based marketing. Instead, they’re packed with high-pressure copy designed to seize your prospect by the throat. And as a consumer, that’s something I’ve never appreciated.

© 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

Mexico poll hopefuls end campaign

Mexico's presidential candidates have made their last bid for votes ahead of hotly-contested 2 July polls. Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and conservative Felipe Calderon are seen as frontrunners in a very tight race. The campaigns have been marked by bitterly-traded political insults and accompanied by a rise in drug violence.

Google launches payment service

Search giant Google has launched an online payments system which aims to compete with auction giant eBay. Called Google Checkout, the system is designed to boost Google's main source of revenue - selling advertising. The service offers some free order processing to Google's millions of advertisers, but will initially be available only to stores in the US.

Court frees Stang murder suspect

Brazil's Supreme Court has freed a man awaiting trial on charges of orchestrating the murder of a Catholic nun and activist, Dorothy Stang. In a three-to-two vote, the Court decided keeping Regivaldo Pereira Galvao in custody violated his rights. The decision has been decried by the family and supporters of Ms Stang, who say he might abscond or try to intimidate witnesses.

BP Accused of Cornering Propane Market in 2004

BP is facing legal action in the US over charges that it tried to manipulate propane prices in 2004. Regulators allege its BP Products North America subsidy artificially forced up prices by buying up huge propane stocks only to withhold them from the market. BP has denied the civil charges and said it intended to defend itself, and added that staff had been dismissed.

Peru ratifies US free trade deal

Peru's outgoing Congress has voted overwhelmingly to ratify a free trade deal with the US amid protests by recently elected opposition deputies. The agreement will scrap tariffs on US goods entering Peru while removing barriers to trade in services. Peruvian goods already enter the US duty-free under a deal providing preferential arrangements for imports from Andean nations.

US Senate rejects flag burning ban

A proposed constitutional amendment to allow Congress to ban the desecration of the US flag has been narrowly defeated in the US Senate. The ban's backers argued the flag was a cherished symbol needing protection while opponents warned against tampering with freedom of speech. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1989 and 1990 that burning the Stars and Stripes was an example of free speech and protected by the American constitution.

EADS sues over leaked documents

Embattled aerospace group EADS has filed a legal complaint over leaked internal documents hinting at problems at the Airbus owner. A report in Le Monde cited minutes of an EADS audit committee meeting held in May. "The legal (grounds) of the complaint are theft, harboring and unauthorized disclosure of strictly internal and confidential draft documentation, which is company property," the firm said.

Brazil's law-enforcing buffaloes

Police have taken to an unusual form of locomotion in the Brazilian city of Belem: buffaloes. The mounted police look splendid on their animals. Calm, dignified and, yes, friendly, they glance down indulgently on visitors to the international fair in Belem.

US Fed ups interest rate to 5.25%

The US Federal Reserve has raised interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 5.25% as it looks to slow inflation.

Japanese rate rise looks imminent

Falling unemployment and rising prices in the shops point to an imminent end to zero interest rates in Japan.

Europe rights watchdog urges Russia, US, Japan to abolish death penalty

The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday renewed calls for Russia to abolish the death penalty Russia recently assumed the rotating chairmanship of the COE's Committee of Ministers. The Assembly also suggested that if talks to persuade the US and Japan to abolish the death penalty do not progress by the end of the year, the Committee should consider suspending the observer status of the countries.

EU high court says states can limit family reunification for immigrants

European Union nations may create additional requirements to family reunification where a child is older than 12 years old and arrives in the member nation as an immigrant before the rest of the family without violating fundamental family rights, the European Court of Justice ruled. The ECJ dismissed an action filed by the European Parliament challenging an EU Council Directive that allows member states to apply national legislation to family reunification. The opinion held that allowing member states to use a limited amount of discretion in determining requirements for family reunification is a proper balancing test that does not violate the right to respect for family life of the European Convention of Human Rights.


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