February 9, 2007 no. 453 - Vol. 5

"Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth."

Blaise Pascal

When your marketing is too good: beware! This paradox is today's Law Firm Marketing column's subject.

  • Top News

ABA panel recommends softening of judicial ethics standards

An American Bar Association (ABA) panel has proposed revisions to its judicial code of conduct so that judges are advised to avoid impropriety but would no longer be subject to formal discipline for failing to do so. In the rewritten ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct , judges are still instructed to "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety," but changes in the code remove references to it being a mandatory rule, making the standard merely a suggestion to judges. The controversial amendment has both supporters and critics, and has led to the resignation of Robert Tembeckjian, administrator of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct and a former adviser to the ABA commission. In his resignation letter Saturday, Tembeckjian said removing the mandatory language of the impropriety rule reduces the standard to a "virtually meaningless phrase."

Europe rights court rules Romania must return property seized under Communists

Romania must return property it nationalized during the 1950s, or else pay overdue compensation, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday. The judgment came in two separate cases both filed by plaintiffs alleging that the Communist regime unlawfully seized their buildings and apartments in Bucharest, the capital, and resold them, violating the owners' property rights. The court held Thursday that Romania must either return the property to the owners within 3 months, or pay both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

Mexican criminal justice system 'gravely flawed': Amnesty

Amnesty International accused Mexico in a report released Wednesday of having a "gravely flawed" criminal justice system in which human rights abuses are perpetuated and criminals are rarely punished. The report cites evidence of arbitrary detentions, torture, fabrication of evidence and unfair trials and claims that the victims are often indigenous Mexicans, the poor, women and children. Inherent in the flawed criminal justice system, the report concludes, is a a lack of trust in police officers, judges and lawyers. One of the greatest concerns is that "the explicit right to the presumption of innocence is absent in Mexico's constitution. In practice most individuals accused of a crime are presumed guilty. Lack of access to effective defence counsel further undermines the right to a fair trial." Amnesty International met with representatives of Mexico's government Wednesday and has called on Mexican President Felipe Calderon to introduce reforms in order to address the deficiencies in the criminal justice system. The human rights organization made recommendations for specific reforms to be made in the areas of "international human rights standards; public security and the criminal justice system; accountability; human rights defenders and rights of victims." The report comes in the midst of surge of violence and killings in Mexico that includes murders, kidnappings and assassinations.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Starbucks China 'bans trans fats'

Starbucks is reportedly aiming to stop selling food containing trans fats at its outlets in China within six months. The coffee shop chain had taken the decision following last month's announcement of a ban at half of its US outlets. Trans fats are created by a process called hydrogenization, which hardens the fats and improves their shelf life.

  • Law Firm Marketing

Legal services: how to keep your offer from arousing suspicion

I received a letter from a lawyer, asking me to evaluate his offer and whether I thought it would attract new clients. This lawyer has an extensive background in marketing, so his letter and related materials were far beyond what most lawyers would create.

Here's the problem: His marketing materials were too good. They were not written in a way a lawyer might offer services. Instead, they were written more like a marketer would write to a low-level consumer audience. They were too powerful, too compelling, too convincing, too slick. As soon as I read them, the red lights started flashing and the bells went off. No client would hire this lawyer because his offer was “too good to be true.”

When you offer to provide legal services, you want your services and the terms and conditions on which you offer them to appear fair and reasonable to both parties. And, naturally, you want to do your best to reduce your prospect's risk.

But when your offer sounds too good, as this one did (it almost sounded like one of those late-night infomercials) you arouse suspicion and skepticism. You lose credibility.

Make your offer as clean and straightforward as you can, but be careful not to make it too good. Because if you do, all the credibility you’ve built to that point will evaporate. And, rather than decide to hire you, your prospect will likely choose to "think about it", and you will never hear from him again.

© 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


El presidente George Bush visitará en marzo Brasil, Uruguay, Guatemala y México. En su viaje denominado "public diplomacy" prevee mejorar los vínculos comerciales y - según dicen - recuperar adeptos hispanos con miras a las elecciones de 2008.


La comunidad judia de Argentina pidió al gobierno estadounidense ayuda en la captura de los iraníes implicados en el caso AMIA que ya tienen orden de detención de la Corte. La demanda fue realizada al ministro de Justicia de Estados Unidos, Alberto Gonzales quien visito el país.


La Corte Constitucional de Colombia otorgó derechos patrimoniales a gays, através de un proyecto de sentencia el pleno del tribunal reconoció la igualdad de condiciones de parejas del mismo sexo con las heterosexuales.

Itaú en Chile

El Banco Itaú Holding Financeira S.A. solicitó a la Superintendencia de Bancos e Instituciones Financieras de Chile autorización para adquirir la totalidad de las acciones de la empresa bancaria BankBoston, la solicitud será considerada dentro del marco de la Ley de Bancos del país.

  • Brief News

Palestinian rivals in unity deal

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah sign an agreement to form a national unity government.

Warner rejects end to DRM systems

Warner Music has rejected a suggestion from Apple boss Steve Jobs that record companies should remove copy protection software from digital music downloads. Its boss Edgar Bronfman, said Mr Job's proposal was "without logic and merit". At present, most download sites, including Apple's iTunes store, use such software to limit the number of machines on which songs can be played. Jobs said this week that Digital Rights Management systems had not ended piracy and so should be removed.

NY seeks ban on iPod shuffle

NY State Senator Carl Kruger says pedestrian iPod use is a "public safety crisis". Using your iPod while crossing the road may soon be illegal in New York. He wants to slap a $100 fine on pedestrians using MP3 players, mobile phones or Blackberries while crossing the road. Two of his Brooklyn constituents had been killed after walking into traffic while listening to MP3 players in the last few months. In one case bystanders screamed "watch out", but the victim did not hear their warnings. The Democratic senator, who was set to introduce the law this week, criticized what he called the scourge of "iPod oblivion" in the Big Apple.

As Aid Runs Out, Afghan Farmers Return to Poppy

Foreign aid is meant to ease Afghanistan's economic dependency on poppy harvests. As President Hamid Karzai pushes provincial governors to crack down on the drug trade, Afghan farmers complain that no one is helping them. Many who gave up their poppy crops last year say they are planting them again.

Leahy introduces new bill to combat identity theft

US Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill Tuesday entitled the "Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2007" designed to protect the personal information of American consumers. The legislation resembles a bill Leahy co-sponsored with then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in 2005, which was not enacted in the last Congress. Among its provisions, the new legislation would increase criminal penalties for identity theft and require institutions that maintain personal data to disclose when they suffer a breach affecting personal security information.

DOJ denies fired prosecutors were victims of political retaliation

US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that thirteen or more federal prosecutors who have been removed over the past two years were not victims of political retaliation, as some Democrats have alleged. McNulty specifically denied that the removal of former US Attorney Carol Lam , who prosecuted former Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham , was motivated by political considerations. McNulty also denied that the Department has filled vacant attorney positions in a way that circumvented the Senate confirmation process.

Cubans warned about satellite TV

The official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party has warned Cubans against manufacturing or using illegal satellite TV dishes and aerials. The paper highlighted the case of four men facing up to three years in prison for allegedly making home-made receivers to pick up foreign channels. Cuba this week condemned a new US strategy of using Florida-based stations to beam TV Marti to Cuba.

Plea for gang violence crackdown

The mayor of the US city of Los Angeles has called for international efforts to deal with gang crime, saying his city was "ground zero" for Latino gangs. Many gangs across North and Central America were started from his city. Regional police chiefs are in LA to discuss fighting the gangs, blamed for a spree of murder, rape and robbery.

Eurozone rates unchanged at 3.5%

The European Central Bank has kept its key interest rate on hold at 3.5%, but hinted that it may go up next month.

EU seeks e-trade without borders

The European Commission is going to overhaul rules for online transactions to make people feel safer making cross-border purchases on the internet. An EU survey found that 71% of consumers believe it is more difficult to resolve complaints and return goods bought from another EU member state.

Ninth Circuit upholds class certification in Wal-Mart gender discrimination case

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for allegedly discriminating against female employees should go to trial, upholding a 2004 certification of the class . The court stated that expert opinions, together with factual, statistical, and anecdotal evidence, presented significant proof of a corporate policy of discrimination against female employees nationwide. The court responded to Wal-Mart's claims that the size of the class made it impractical by stating that "although size of this class action is large, mere size does not render a case unmanageable." Wal-Mart appealed to the Ninth Circuit in 2005, arguing that the six lead plaintiffs were not typical or common of the class. Wal-Mart also objected to the size of the class certified, which they say is the largest in US history and would violate its due process rights. Wal-Mart argued that its stores operate independently and should be sued individually; plaintiffs' lawyers countered that individual lawsuits would be impractical. The district court also rejected Wal-Mart's claim that the class size was "impractical on its face" and approved a statistical formula for paying damages if discrimination is proven.

Mistrial in US war objector case

A US military judge has declared a mistrial in the court martial of an officer who refused to fight in Iraq. The judge, Lt Col John Head, said the soldier did not fully understand a document he signed admitting to elements of the charges. First Lt Ehren Watada is charged with missing movements and two charges of conduct unbecoming an officer for publicly criticizing the Iraq war.

He has pleaded not guilty. A new court martial has been set for 19 March. Head halted the court martial on its third day after he threw out a pre-trial agreement between the prosecution and the defense on the facts of the case.

US housing slowdown knocks HSBC

Banking group HSBC has warned that its bad debt provisions for 2006 will be 20% higher than expected - after problems in the US housing market. Bad debt provisions across the group are now set to be about $10.5bn. The slowing growth of the US housing market had led to more people not meeting repayments, HSBC said, increasing its liability.

  • Daily Press Review


Underage sex: New survey unveils open decadence
East African Standard, Liberal daily of Nairobi, Kenya

Mercy Arhin succeeds Arafat as Cape Coast MCE
Ghanaian Chronicle, Independent, published in Accra, Ghana

SUDAN: Violence continues to limit Darfur aid operations
Integrated Regional Information Networks (United Nations), Nairobi, Kenya

Mbeki, Chippy and the Greek lobbyist
Mail and Guardian, Liberal daily of Johannesburg, South Africa


Hotel bookings increase for CWC
Barbados Advocate, Independent daily of St Michael, Barbados

New farming secretary to face first test
Buenos Aires Herald, Liberal daily of Buenos Aires, Argentina

'Raise age of consent'
Jamaica Gleaner, Centrist daily of Kingston, Jamaica

Familiar anti-drug walkthrough vs the politics, economics of drug trafficking
The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, Independent weekly of Guadalajara, Mexico

Asia Pacific

6 parties OK early measures / North Korea 'conditionally ready' over acceptance of content
Daily Yomiuri, Conservative daily of Tokyo, Japan

Chinese, Mozambican presidents pledge to uplift bilateral ties
People's Daily Online, Pro-government daily of Beijing, China

Accused pill killer 'depressed'
The Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily of Sydney, Australia

Swiss Ready to Help Bring Back Corruptors’ Assets
Tempo, Independent weekly of Jakarta, Indonesia

India Welcomes PM Koirala's Feb 7 Address to Nation
The Himalayan Times, Independent daily of Kathmandu, Nepal

'Help us!' seamen beg
The Manila Times, Pro-government daily of Manila, Philippines

Passing PTK does not mean efficient worker, says MTUC
The Sun, Independent daily of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


'The EU's Premier Foreign Policy Is Enlargement'
Deutsche Welle, International broadcaster of Cologne, Germany

Kadyrov demands better work from United Russia members
Interfax, Government-owned news agency, Moscow, Russia

Pharmaceutical giant denies plan to quit Ireland
Irish Examiner, Centrist daily of Cork, Ireland

Gazprom: U.S. Firm in Yukos Talks
The Moscow Times, Independent, English-language daily of Moscow, Russia

Gang wars leave Tokyo braced for bloodshed
The Scotsman, Centrist daily of Edinburgh, Scotland

Organized crime charges hit drug firms
Turkish Daily News, Independent daily of Istanbul, Turkey

Middle East

Beirut via Damascus
Al-Ahram Weekly, Semi-official, English-language weekly of Cairo, Egypt

Shaimev to Be Presented Faisal Prize on Sunday
Arab News, Pro-government, English-language daily of Jidda, Saudi Arabia

Fatah-Hamas Unity Deal Reached in Mecca
Arutz Sheva, Pro-settler publication of Israel

US interests 'fair target'
Gulf News, Independent daily of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

State Dept.: New PA gov't must meet int'l demands
Ha`aretz, Liberal daily of Tel Aviv, Israel

Rafsanjani: Military attacks on Iran would be very costly for US
Islamic Republic News Agency, Government-owned news agency of Tehran, Iran

Jerusalem police brace for violence after Friday prayers
The Jerusalem Post, Conservative daily of Jerusalem, Israel


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