Archive for July, 2006

Rio Restaurant Recommendations from International Lawyer/Rio Resident

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

I’m blogging from Rio de Janeiro–and that’s pretty great.  Even better would be to blog from–and reside in–Rio, as does Vicky Martinez, General Counsel of the Southern Cone Region for Prisma Energy International Inc.

During your next trip, Vicky (a Rio resident for approximately eight years) suggests dining at the Copacabana-area Siri Mole restaurant for delicious Bahian food (Rua Francisco Otaviano 50).  People rave about its soft shelled crab, which inspired the restaurant’s name.

If your visit to Rio includes an afternoon (preferably Sunday afternoon), Vicky strongly recommends dining outside at Aprazivel (Rua Aprazivel 62) in the Santa Teresa area to enjoy spectacular views of the Guanabara Bay.

Think Like a Journalist

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

When I began writing for the Asian Wall Street Journal, I learned to ask “What’s new?”  So, when my clients ask me to consult on their media exposure, we ask, “What’s new?”

Journalists are under tremendous pressure to cover topics that are fresh and newsworthy.  Make their job easy for them.  Learn to think like a journalist.

First, take your pride out of the equation.  The fact that you won a big case or trial is interesting to other lawyers (maybe), but much less interesting to journalists–and the general public.  What is interesting is something unusual. 

Journalists look for “hooks.”  Ask, “What’s the hook?”  The more unusual the news item, the more it is a “hook.”

For example, the fact that your law firm is opening an office in Dubai is moderately interesting.  The fact that your firm’s Dubai office has hired the son of a prominent government official from Dubai is somewhat more interesting. The fact that this same son has a highly unusual hobby–training to be an astronaut, or collecting rare manuscripts from Medieval Germany–is more interesting.  That’s a “hook.” In the journalist’s eyes (and this is what counts); it’s an unusual, newsworthy fact.

Dry business facts may get news coverage, but news with an unusual “hook” has a better chance of being reported–and more widely reported.

How to brainstorm about media “hooks”?  Think them up yourself, brainstorm with creative friends, or hire a PR consultant. But always, look for the unusual.


International Commercial Arbitration Training

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

This August, the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center at the University of Houston School of Law is offering comprehensive commercial arbitration training. 

“Any lawyer–whether trial, transactional or in-house–needs to know about international arbitration,” explained Ben Sheppard, the course’s founder and instructor. He created a course which teaches participants how to draft and enforce arbitration clauses, and how to conduct arbitrations.  Graduates of the highly interactive class will receive a certificate, a thorough set of educational materials including case histories, and 24.75 MCLE hours (including 2.75 of ethics). 

Tuition costs $1950.  The class runs from August 16-19; if you miss it, look for another in spring 2007.  For more information, call 713-743-2006.

Preparing for an International Law Career

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

Are you an aspiring international lawyer?  Are you certain that you want to practice  international law, but you need more information about your practice options?

Career Preparation and Opportunities in International Law, a publication of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law & Practice, gives a good overview of different kinds of international law practice.  It discusses what it’s like to practice international law at law firms, governmental institutions, international organizations and non-profits. The book also advises law students about suggested courses of study and other ways to prepare for an international law career. 

Although the second edition (1984) could use some updating, the book still gives a terrific overview for the aspiring international law practitioner. 


Marketing with Legal Bills

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Oh those horrible bills.  We love doing the legal work…but dread sending out the bills.  The only task worse than billing is actually reminding clients to pay the bills.

Did you ever think of remaking your bills into a marketing tool?  Your legal bills can be a platform for demonstrating your value to your client through an impressive description of the services rendered.

Quick tips:

1.  Describe the legal work succinctly but fully enough to show your firm’s thoroughness.  Help the client understand what he is paying for:  your expertise.

2.  Highlight the problems that you solved, noting that they are resolved.

3.  List any complimentary services, such as “10 minute conference call on 7-1-06:  No charge.”  

4.  Do not charge for anything that did not convey real value.  For example, do not charge for introductory “meet and greet” sessions.

5.  Identify any unresolved issues that need more attention, such as:  “Initial teleconference about potential Indonesian trademark issue, and need for further discussions on matter.”  This will remind client to pursue the matter with you–and also give you an excuse to follow up with the client directly about it.

6.  Whenever possible, reduce any charges for expenses like faxes and couriers.  Clients often resent paying for expenses, especially if lawyers use them as “profit centers”.

7.  Be sure and use the billing format that the client prefers, and send the bill to the correct recipient.  Incredibly, lawyers often overlook these details.  Call the client to confirm these details if you are not sure.

8.  Do not include surprise charges or expenses without alerting the client to these first in person (best), by phone (second best) or email.