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6 key ingredients of effective law firm press releases

As the media continues to evolve in this electronic age, newsrooms are shrinking or disappearing, the role of journalists is changing, and opportunities for publishing news online are proliferating. The type of information getting published – especially online – also is changing. A decade ago, the chances of getting a law firm press release published verbatim were almost nil. Today, with news and aggregate websites in abundance, wire services publishing on the Web, and more non-journalism-trained editors deciding what gets published, the tables have turned for the press release as a PR tool.

A press release is no longer a vehicle just for informing journalists (who, in the past, mostly cherry-picked the facts they needed from a press release to incorporate into their own stories). In many cases today, a press release is the complete story that your audience will see. That makes the stakes higher than ever before. With that in mind, consider these tips on key ingredients and useful elements to include when writing a law firm press release.

  • Include an attention-grabbing headline.
  • Include the most “newsworthy” information in the first two to three paragraphs – your audience may not read beyond that.
  • Emphasise what’s different about you, your firm or whatever news you’re communicating. Reporters love “firsts” and precedent-setting developments (if they are legit).
  • Insert web links to your law firm’s site and blogs, attorney biographies, and related external web pages. (Even if publishers use “nofollow” links that don’t pass link juice, you will still point readers to your firm’s website where they can further engage with your content.)
  • If there’s a related video, link to that also or embed it into the press release. YouTube and Vimeo players make it easy to copy embed codes.
  • For releases about attorneys, add links to their social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter).
  • Provide an email address and phone number for someone knowledgeable and responsive as a media contact.
  • Employ useful content. Great storytelling is what sells a release, and these add-ons and themes will help get reporters and editors invested in your news:
  • Provide statistics, if applicable, to add timeliness and credibility to your story.
  • Add local angles. For example, if a law firm has multiple offices, consider customising releases for each office with a different market (city) dateline. In each release, quote a local attorney/office head on firmwide stories. Consider other ways to localise your release to interest journalists in each city where you want coverage.
  • Try to pivot from a current event or story in the news. For example, for a press release about a new law firm office, juxtapose it against a recent story about a downturn in new business openings in the community.
  • Relate your news to current or emerging trends in the legal industry. Reporters often are interested in piggybacking on top of what’s on the cutting edge.
  • Analyse the impact of the news or development that your release covers. Don’t just report the news about you or your firm – explain how it may affect clients, the business community, other lawyers and law firms, and other key constituents.
  • Include at least one good quote from an attorney source or the subject of the release. This adds “color,” personalises the information, and breaks up the routine facts of “who, what, when, where and how.”

Don’t be intimidated by having to produce the perfect law firm press release every time out. By including as many key elements as possible, and hitting upon a couple of attention-grabbing content themes, you’re likely to have success in getting published and positively building the public reputations of yourself and your law firm.

European stocks steady as US celebrates 4th of July

European stock markets flatlined Thursday, after an uneventful session earlier in Asia, with trading volumes thin on the US Independence Day holiday, dealers said.

“European stocks have edged a tad higher while US stock futures are unchanged following Asia’s mixed session, one day after new record highs for indexes stateside,” said Oanda analyst Dean Popplewell.

“Trading remains thin due to July 4th US celebrations,” he added but sounded caution before Friday’s data release of US non-farm payrolls — a key update on the health of the world’s biggest economy.

Vulnerable Dollar

“Currently, the dollar trades broadly flat due to the US public holiday but could be vulnerable and ruin traders’ weekends if tomorrow’s US NFP data comes in on the weaker side.”

Asian equity markets experienced mixed fortunes, despite a record-breaking performance on Wall Street, as investors turned their focus to Friday’s upcoming data while hoping for a big Federal Reserve interest rate cut.

US traders went on a pre-July 4 spending spree Wednesday to push all three main indexes to their all-time highs as a string of weak economic indicators reinforced the case for the Fed to reduce borrowing costs.

With the relief rally from Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s trade war ceasefire running its course, dealers were turning their attention to the global outlook and pinning their hopes on central bank support.

The release Friday of US non-farm payroll figures is key, analysts say, with a weak reading likely to reinforce expectations of a rate cut.

Talk of a reduction and concerns about the economy have seen the yield on safe haven 10-year Treasuries fall below two percent.

French Negative Yield

Stephen Innes, at Vanguard Markets, said the fall in yields across several asset classes “has increased investor appetite for high dividend-yielding equity risk”.

In Europe meanwhile, the French Treasury issued 10-year bonds at negative interest rates for the first time ever, meaning investors are now willing to pay, rather than receive, interest on their bond purchases.

Dealers attributed part of the rally in eurozone bond markets to the nomination of IMF chief Christine Lagarde as head of the ECB where she would be expected to pursue loose money policies.

“With increasingly dovish central bank rhetoric throughout Europe and the US, further gains look likely,” predicted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.

The increasing likelihood of a Fed cut has, however, weighed on the dollar, with riskier currencies such as the South Korean won, Australian dollar and Indonesian rupiah all strengthening.

However, Trump hit out at China on Wednesday in a Twitter rant, accusing it and Europe of artificially keeping the yuan and euro weak to gain an advantage over the US.

He said they were playing a “big currency manipulation game” and “pumping money into their system”, adding that the US should step up to the fight by matching them.

Oil prices meanwhile sagged, with traders disappointed by the size of the drop in US stockpiles of the commodity, while worries over the global economic outlook weigh on demand expectations.

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MicroStrategy® Wins a 2018 Industry Excellence Award

MicroStrategy® Incorporated (Nasdaq: MSTR), a leading worldwide provider of enterprise analytics and mobility software, today announced that Dresner Advisory Services has honored MicroStrategy with a 2018 Technology Leader for Business Intelligence award for its strong position in the 2018 Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence (BI) report.

The Dresner Advisory Services Industry Excellence Awards go to brands that were ranked as leaders in two user-rating models included in the Wisdom of Crowds series of global Dresner research reports. The reports are based on data collected from a large base of end users in the BI and analytics industry and provide a broad and detailed assessment of each market, including current product usage, key buying drivers, technology priorities, and future intentions, as well as performance ratings of all relevant vendors.

“We congratulate MicroStrategy for receiving top marks from its customer base,” said Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “The unique value of our research is in its end user perspective of the market, both in adoption trends and intentions, and the ability to provide an unfiltered assessment of industry suppliers.”

The MicroStrategy platform provides the capabilities organizations need to build and deploy modern analytics and mobility applications that transform and accelerate business decisions. By putting answers in everyone’s hands, regardless of enterprise role, function, or skill level, the MicroStrategy platform helps organizations become a more Intelligent Enterprise™.

“The recognition from industry leader Dresner Advisory Services marks another milestone in our mission of making every enterprise a more Intelligent Enterprise,” said Michael J. Saylor, CEO, MicroStrategy Incorporated. “With our award-winning enterprise analytics and mobility platform, organizations around the world can get the answers they need, delivered where they need them, to make effective decisions for competitive advantage, driving their digital transformation initiatives and planning today for tomorrow’s challenges.”

This award is the latest in a line of increasing industry recognition for MicroStrategy, which was top ranked in the 2018 Wisdom of Crowds Location Intelligence Market Study and received a Dresner Advisory Services 2017 Technology Innovation Award for embedded BI and big data analytics. Start a free trial of MicroStrategy Desktop™ today.

About Dresner Advisory Services

Dresner Advisory Services was formed by Howard Dresner, an independent analyst, author, lecturer, and business adviser. Dresner Advisory Services, LLC focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership for Business Intelligence (BI), information management, performance management and related areas.

About MicroStrategy Incorporated

MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR) is a worldwide leader in enterprise analytics and mobility software. A pioneer in the BI and analytics space, MicroStrategy delivers innovative software that empowers people to make better decisions and transform the way they do business. We provide our enterprise customers with world-class software and expert services so they can deploy unique intelligence applications. To learn more, visit MicroStrategy online, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

MicroStrategy, MicroStrategy Desktop, and Intelligent Enterprise are either trademarks or registered trademarks of MicroStrategy Incorporated in the United States and certain other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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Exclusive: A lawyer’s guide to keeping it professional on social media

In today’s environment, social media allows people to instantly share their opinions with the world. However, given the many heated issues that dominate our national discourse, there can be a tendency to post (or tweet) in anger or passion, which can lead to regrets later.

This risk is especially dangerous for attorneys. While attorneys may sometimes view their presence on social media to be in a “personal” capacity, the reality is that the line between personal and business can be blurred, or may not exist at all. In particular, with respect to an attorney’s ethical obligations, it may not be a very effective defence for an attorney to claim that she was acting in her personal capacity, and not as a lawyer, when she violated an ethical rule.

Recognising the rise of these issues in the age of social media, the State Bar of California issued a Formal Opinion in 2012 that addressed the interplay between postings on a supposedly personal social media page and the ethical rules governing attorney advertising. State Bar of California Formal Op. No. 2012-186. At issue were certain posts on an attorney’s personal social media page that highlighted the successes the attorney had on other cases, such as “Another great victory in court today! My client is delighted. Who wants to be next?” The California Bar concluded that, even among posts relating to the attorney’s personal life, such posts and others constituted the solicitation of clients or otherwise “concern[ed] the availability for professional employment,” and thus were required to comply with the rules for attorney advertising set forth in the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

Another potential issue exacerbated by the rise of social media is the potential for “positional” conflicts. Such a conflict may typically exist where, for example, an attorney argues for a certain interpretation of a statute in one lawsuit because it is in the best interests of one client, but then at the same time argues for the opposite interpretation of the same statute in another lawsuit on behalf of a different client. Comment 6 to Rule 1.7 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct (as effective Nov. 1, 2018) provides that such circumstances typically do not create a conflict requiring the client’s informed written consent unless certain factors are present.

However, it is arguably less clear how positional conflicts may function in the context of positions taken on social media. Comment 4 to Rule 1.7 provides that a conflict of interest requiring informed written consent) exists “if there is a significant risk that a lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer’s other responsibilities, interests, or relationships, whether legal, business, financial, professional, or personal.” Interpreting similar provisions, at least one bar association has stated that attorneys sharing information on social media sites should exercise caution “when stating positions on issues, as those stated positions could be adverse to an interest of a client, thus inadvertently creating a conflict.” See District of Columbia Bar Ethics Op. 370.

Although some commentators have suggested that the D.C. Bar’s opinion goes too far to limit attorneys, social media posts can also create sticky client relations issues even if the posts do not rise to the level of a traditional conflict of interest. Below are some tips for avoiding issues when using social media.

Considering Staying Neutral

Social media is generally not a place for balanced, well-reasoned assessments of issues but is used by many to express visceral reactions to news events. While attorneys may feel the urge to immediately share their thoughts with the world, they do so at their own risk.

For example, if Congress is considering passing a law that may impact a client, an attorney may be inclined to immediately offer her or his opinion on that law without regard to whether that position is aligned with the client’s. Even if the attorney’s posting does not create an actual conflict, a client certainly may be less than pleased to see its law firm advocating for a position if that position stands to harm the client’s business, financial or legal interests.

Likewise, commenting on ongoing cases can also be risky, but attorneys who feel compelled to do so can limit their risks by avoiding taking a definite stance and instead presenting a balanced analysis. That could help avoid creating any potential positional conflict with the interests of a client of the attorney and her or his law firm.

Avoid Unprofessional Conduct

Attorneys (typically) understand that their correspondence and briefs should be consistent with the level of decorum expected of members of the bar. Too often, that level of decorum is thrown out the window on social media. However, despite the informality of social media, it should not be considered as a free zone for unprofessional conduct.

A good rule of thumb is to ask whether the comment made on social media would be appropriate if standing outside a courtroom or at a dinner party. Many times, attorneys post comments on social media that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, much less one with a client.

In some respects, comments on social media are worse than face-to-face conversations, as they are generally broadcast to the world and preserved for posterity. Courts and bars are increasingly taking notice of these issues and applying the same bar rules to social media as they do to traditional legal correspondence.

Think First

The most obvious tip can often be the hardest in practice. Before posting on any substantive issue (e.g., legal or political issues), it is helpful to stop and think practically about the post and the possible response from their firms, clients, and potential clients. Where practical, it may be a good idea to first run the posting by a colleague or firm leadership to ensure that it does not create any unintended conflicts or client relations issues.

Too often, attorneys instead let their emotions take over and fire off a post without a second thought. While attorneys certainly can use social media effectively in establishing a presence in their community or in a certain practice area, the undisciplined use of social media can unfortunately create the wrong kind of presence very quickly.

Shari L. Klevens is a partner at Dentons US and serves on the firm’s US Board of Directors. She represents and advises lawyers and insurers on complex claims, is co-chair of Dentons’ global insurance sector team, and is co-author of “California Legal Malpractice Law” (2014).

Alanna Clair is a partner at Dentons US and focuses on professional liability defence. Shari and Alanna are co-authors of “The Lawyer’s Handbook: Ethics Compliance and Claim Avoidance.”

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Samantha Levine appointed as Senior Vice President of JLT Specialty

JLT Specialty, a U.S. subsidiary of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc. (LSE:JLT.L), the leading global specialist risk advisor and broker, is pleased to announce the appointment of Samantha Levine as Senior Vice President of JLT’s Cyber / E&O Practice.

Based in Denver, Levine will be responsible for advising JLT’s clients on complex areas of Errors & Omissions and Cyber risk, through exposure identification and assessment, prioritization of complex areas of risk, and the creation of solutions to minimize the impact to their reputation and balance sheet.

Levine comes to JLT from Aon, where she served as Vice President within the Professional Risk Solutions team. During this time, Levine advised clients in the Western US, and also provided national expertise in Network Security & Privacy and technology risks. Levine specialized in creating bespoke solutions for her clients for what were deemed “uninsurable risks”. Furthermore, she co-led Aon’s Professional Risk Solutions Policy Committee, where she negotiated language enhancements with senior legal and underwriting leadership.

“We are committed to bringing the best resources to our clients,” said Shannon Groeber, Executive Vice President at JLT Specialty. “Samantha’s in-depth experience working in complex areas of risk will be an invaluable asset to our clients and the company.”

“The appointment of Samantha further strengthens our Cyber/E&O team,” said Pat Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer at JLT Specialty. “Having Samantha on our team is a reflection of our on-going commitment to hire the best professionals in our industry.”

Levine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College and a Juris Doctorate from University of Kansas School of Law.

About JLT Specialty

Jardine Lloyd Thompson is one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services. JLT’s client proposition is built upon its deep specialist knowledge, client advocacy, tailored advice and service excellence. JLT is quoted on the London Stock Exchange and owns offices in more than 40 territories with over 10,000 employees. Supported by the JLT International Network, it offers risk management and employee benefit solutions in 135 countries. For further information about JLT, please visit our website www.jlt.com and follow us on LinkedIn at JLT Group and Twitter @JLTGroup.

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Foreign firms doing business in Iran may face sanctions, US warns

President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal has left foreign firms with a choice: Stop doing business in Iran or run the risk of US sanctions.

Multinational companies have billions of dollars tied up in Iran.

In 2016, the European Union exported more than €8.2 billion ($9.7 billion) worth of goods to Iran, while importing almost €5.5 billion ($6.5 billion) from there, according to the European Commission.

But Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, warned firms that continue to do business there would face consequences.

“US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately,” he tweeted Tuesday night.

The Federation of German Industries said any attempt to prevent firms from dealing with Iran is contrary to international law. It called on the European Union to “effectively protect European companies from the effects of illegitimate and one-sided implementation of US sanctions.”

Carl Bildt, the former leader of Sweden who is now co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, highlighted that the sanctions would have the biggest impact beyond America’s borders.

“US Iran sanctions are hardly hitting any US companies, but aim primarily at European ones,” he said in a tweet.

Under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the United States committed to ease a series of sanctions on Iran and has done so under a string of “waivers” that effectively suspend them.

Virtually all multinational corporations do business or banking in the US, meaning any return to pre-pact sanctions could torpedo deals made after the 2015 agreement came into force.

“It’s a huge challenge,” said Dr. Sanam Vakil, a professor in the Middle East studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. “The US economy is 10 times that of Iran in terms of size and value, so it makes more sense to do business with the US than the Islamic Republic [of Iran].”

Among US companies, the plane-maker Boeing has signed the biggest deals, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that its existing licenses — as well as those of its European competitor, Airbus Group — would be invalidated.

In December 2016, Airbus signed a deal with Iran’s national carrier, IranAir, to sell it 100 planes for around $19 billion at list prices. Boeing later struck its own deal with IranAir for 80 aircraft with a list price of some $17 billion, promising that deliveries would begin in 2017 and run until 2025. Boeing separately struck another 30-plane deal with Iran’s Aseman Airlines for $3 billion.

Boeing has yet to deliver any aircraft to Iran under those deals and said that it will “continue to follow the US government’s lead.”

Airbus, which is subject to the US license because it makes at least 10 percent of its aircraft components in the US, says it will abide by the new US sanctions but it could take “some time” to determine the full impact on the industry. It has already delivered two A330-200s and one A321 to Iran.

French oil company Total SA has been the most aggressive Western oil company to move back into Iran, signing a $5 billion, 20-year agreement with Iran in July. A Chinese oil company also has a deal to develop the country’s massive South Pars offshore natural gas field. Total did not respond to requests for comment.

Adam Smith, a Washington-based lawyer with Gibson Dunn and former Treasury official, agreed that if sanctions are imposed then companies will essentially be forced to choose between the US and Iranian markets.

“It’s a cost-and-benefit question for EU companies,” he said, explaining that firms would find themselves in the same situation as they were in before sanctions were lifted. “It’s a back to the future situation. It would be a world which we have been in before.”

The Treasury said there will be a “wind-down period” of 90 to 180 days to allow companies to complete transactions with Iran to avoid future US sanctions.

However, the Treasury warned that sanctions will come back into full effect after this grace period.

On Aug. 6, the US government will re-impose sanctions on activities such as the acquisition of US dollar banknotes by the Iranian government, Iran’s trade of gold and precious metals and the country’s automotive sector.

On Nov. 4, the US will re-impose sanctions on other activities including Iran’s oil and shipping industries and its energy sector, as well as on transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

Despite Trump’s announcement, France’s foreign minister insisted that the nuclear deal was “not dead,” adding that French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to speak with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani later Wednesday.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, France, Germany and the UK did not specifically address the issue of US sanctions on European companies, but said their governments remained committed to ensuring the “continuation of the economic benefits of the agreement for the benefit of the world, economy and the Iranian people.”

The UK government updated its guidelines on exporting to Iran shortly after Trump’s announcement Tuesday, saying the re-imposition of the US sanctions against Iran “may have implications for UK businesses and individuals dealing with Iran.” It advised companies to seek legal advice where necessary.

Smith said it was unclear whether Trump would actually impose sanctions on EU companies that continue to deal with Iran, adding that the threat may be strategic, and that the administration could eventually end up granting exemptions.

Vakil said it was now up to Europe to keep the deal alive and protect investment in Iran. “The ball is in the EU’s court,” she said. “I’m skeptical that companies are going to stay in Iran because the risks are so high.”