Category Archives: Legal Careers

If You Want to Get the Job, DO NOT Do These Things!

It’s a potential life-changing event—yet so many people get it wrong. I’m talking about going for an interview for a position you really want; one that could have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life.

So, why is it that so many prospective employees don’t seem to grasp the essentials of getting the interviewer to fall in love with them and make a commitment to hire them?

While building successful businesses I’ve had the opportunity to conduct many interviews. Let me share with you 10 common faults I’ve identified from that experience. Avoid them if you really want to get the exciting job of your dreams.

1. Don’t Be Unprepared

First of all…don’t make the mistake of going into an interview without researching the industry, the company, the boss, and as much as you can about the specific position. If someone tells me they’re at the interview to learn about my company, that’s a total turn-off.

The interviewee should have gone out of his way to become knowledgeable and find out in advance everything he could about the enterprise he wants to work for. There are so many online resources today; it’s not something that’s hard to do. It shows that the candidate is serious about wanting the position. Part of being prepared is also making sure you don’t arrive late for the interview. That’s inexcusable. Shoot to get to the appointment way ahead of time just in case there are unexpected delays.

2. Don’t Go Casual

You must create a good first impression. And that starts with the first moment your interviewer sets eyes on you. At our company, we do not have a suit and tie dress code, but it’s disrespectful for a potential employee to stroll in wearing a torn T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. You’re attending a job interview—not a ball game.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

I like inquisitive people. I like people who want to learn. And I actually like people who challenge me. So don’t forget that an interview is a two-way street. I’m trying to find out if you’ll fit in with the rest of my rock stars and what kind of dynamite contribution you can make to our success; hopefully, you’re curious about the people with whom you’ll be working, the Company’s culture, exactly what is going to be demanded of you—and the potential for growth within the company.

I’m going to be investing in you—so I want someone who’s going to make a commitment and be with us long-term. Please don’t forget that.

4. Don’t Use Clichés

I’ve heard them all. “I’m a problem-solver.” “I’m a real team player.” “I’m a perfectionist.” I don’t need to hear general descriptions of how great you are (especially those clichés). I do want to hear specific examples of your successes and who the inner you is. What character in any relationship do you value the most? What was the highest moment in your life and the most struggling? How did you react and prosper?

Interview

5. Don’t Trash Your Current Employer

You may well be unhappy at your current company. I don’t need to hear it. If you speak ill of your current employer what’s to say you won’t speak ill of me? Don’t bring any trash talk from your job into the interview. Saying you didn’t always see eye to eye is one thing; it may well show that you can think for yourself, especially if you can quote a positive element. One way or another it was a learning experience! But don’t harp on petty disputes or air any dirty laundry. Don’t trash talk anyone. You don’t want to gain a reputation for negativity.

6. Don’t Be Fake

There’s always the temptation to “play to the gallery” when you’re being interviewed. You’re inclined to tell the interviewer exactly what you think he wants to hear rather than exactly how you feel. OK. So it’s stressful and you want the job really badly. And maybe you even exaggerate your experience a little bit. My advice is to be real. Presenting a “fake you” and hyped credentials is not going to serve you in the long haul. Truth has a way of finding its way out.

7. Don’t Chit Chat

Never forget that this is an interview for a job. Be professional. Be business-like. This is not the forum to share intimate details of your personal life, the ups and downs of your marriage, or your recent break-up. It is the forum to discuss why you want the job and how you will be an asset to the company.

8. Don’t Be Evasive

A good interviewer will ask plenty of direct questions. Be ready to provide direct answers. Honesty is the best policy. A good interviewer will watch your body language and inflection of voice for any telltale evasions.

9. Don’t Talk Money

There’s a time and a place to discuss salary, bonuses, and perks of the job. And it’s not at the initial interview unless it’s something the interviewer raises. Your compensation package is obviously a matter for major discussion—when you know you’re going to get offered something. Then you can always negotiate from a position of strength.

10. Don’t Just Walk Away

At the end of the interview don’t simply say “thanks for your consideration” and depart—and that’s the end of it. If you want the position make it clear that you’re interested before you leave and try to find out the company’s level of interest in you. Say something like, “This sounds like an ideal position for me. Is there a fit here?” and “What’s our next step?”

Your next step, regardless, is to follow up. The same day. A brief, polite email thanking the interviewer for his consideration and reiterating your desire for the job is not only proper etiquette but also shows that you really want it. I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t follow up. But it happens.

Going for an interview is one of the most important (and challenging) events in anyone’s life. Don’t treat it casually if are serious about being part of a winning team. It’s your first chance to shine. Don’t make it your last chance.

Most of all, especially if you’re young, take risks and interview for the places that you can call a career – not a job. Life’s too short to be aiming for a 9 to 5.

Top Legal Recruiter Shares Proven Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “always working” rather than working smart.  However, there are ways to avoid falling into that trap:

business-woman-drinking-coffee-by-a-sunny-window1. Take more breaks. In one of my favorite books, Stephen Covey tells a story about a woodcutter whose saw gets more blunt as time passes and he continues cutting down trees. If the woodcutter were to stop sawing, sharpen his saw, and go back to cutting the tree with a sharp blade, he would actually save time and effort in the long run.

The analogy is an easy one to remember but harder to put into practice. Here’s what Covey says about sharpening the saw in our lives:

Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Sharpening the saw is a great habit to get into in all areas of our lives, but I think it can be especially beneficial when it comes to work and helping us avoid burnout.

On average our brains are only able to remain focused for 90 minutes; then we need at least 15 minutes rest. (The phenomenon is based on ultradian rhythms.) By taking period breaks roughly every 90 minutes you allow your mind and body to renew–and be ready to fire off another 90-minute period of high activity.

For some people, 15 to 20 minute breaks might be tough to pull off, but taking short breaks throughout the day can still help you to refresh your mind and reset your attention span.

sleeping-in-cubicle2. Take naps. Research shows naps lead to improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking, and memory performance. In particular, napping benefits the learning process by helping us take in and retain information better.

The improved learning process comes from naps actually helping our brain to solidify memories. According to Max Read, “Research indicates that when memory is first recorded in the brain–in the hippocampus, to be specific–it’s still ‘fragile’ and easily forgotten, especially if the brain is asked to memorize more things. Napping, it seems, pushes memories to the neocortex, the brain’s ‘more permanent storage,’ preventing them from being ‘overwritten.’”

One study into memory found that participants did remarkably better on a test following a nap than those who didn’t sleep at all.

Not only are naps beneficial for consolidating memories and helping us remember new information (handy if your job includes a lot of research during the day!), they’re also useful in helping us to avoid burnout, since research shows burnout is a signal that says you can’t take in more information in this part of your brain until you’ve had a chance to sleep.

3. Spend time in nature. Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Power of Excellence,

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Dynamite L/E Powerhouses Pave the Way for Hottest Lateral Move Trend

Following the newest trend in lateral moves, two rainmaker attorneys made the leap from an Am Law 100 firm to one of the most innovative firms in the country last week.  Our seasoned GLI recruiters recently noted several Am Law 100 lawyers who found their ideal growth opportunities at more strategic, entrepreneurial Am Law 200 firms.  Dawn M. Lurie joined Polsinelli last week from a top Am Law 100 firm in Washington, DC and brings with her over 20 years of experience.  Joining Dawn in her move is Mahsa Aliaskari, previously a special counsel with the same firm.

Dawn LurieDawn advises on U.S. and global immigration matters and is ranked as a leading business immigration lawyer by Legal 500, Chambers, Best Lawyers, and Who’s Who
Legal as well as other publications.  Formerly the leader of her firm’s Business Immigration and Compliance practice, Dawn is admitted in New Jersey and Washington, DC and received her Juris Doctorate from American University’s Washington College of Law. Dawn advises domestic corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 alien employment verification matters.  Dawn was attracted to Polsinelli because of their shared vision for the future and drive. Dawn felt it was the absolute best move which supported her client’s needs and was beneficial for her as well because all indicators point to huge growth initiatives now and continuing over the next 4-5 years.  “Polsinelli,” Dawn explained “has everything that the Am Law 100 firms are known for, but their huge flexibility, national practices, platforms and culture scream cooperation!”

Mahsa AliaskariMahsa was the leader of her firm’s Los Angeles Immigration group.  She represents national and international employers before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor in connection with immigration-related employment matters. Providing practical and innovative strategies and immigration practices that work for companies since 1998, she has assisted various companies, professionals and skilled workers in obtaining immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.  She focuses her practice on business professionals across a number of industries, including health care, finance, trade, retail, manufacturing, technology and entertainment. Mahsa was drawn to Polsinelli due to their vast growth possibilities.

GLI wishes Dawn and Mahsa all the best with their new firm.

GLI/Grimes Legal, Inc. has been assisting in successful placements like these for over 25 years.  Following the suit of many groundbreaking partners, Dawn and Mahsa made a move from a top Am Law 100 firm to one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial firms in America;  a smart strategy.  GLI strategizes to recruit and place world-class talent for outstanding law firms of any size or location – partners, practice heads, practice groups, and mergers.  With coast-to-coast contacts and a network of highly skilled recruiters, we use our unmatched experience to exceed your expectations every time.

The holiday networking survival guide

Posted by Amanda Augustine
December 03, 2013 @ 02:28 PM

Make the most of this festive season by networking your way through the holidays.

networking_holiday_toast‘Tis the season for holiday parties, open houses, family get-togethers…and networking!

Whether you love it or loathe it, networking has become a key component in every professional’s career development and job-search strategy. It can help you establish your personal brand, uncover new job leads, and gain valuable insight into a prospective employer.

The holidays are an especially great time to put your networking skills to work. Below are some of my favorite articles that cover all aspects of networking, from developing your elevator pitch to incorporating networking into your everyday life.

 

Happy holiday networking!

 

5 tips for networking success
Start networking today to take your job search to the next level.

How to network without begging
Leverage your professional network during a job search without begging for favors.

Networking anytime, anywhere
Incorporate networking into your regular routine to boost your career.

How to pitch your value: Dissecting the elevator pitch
Develop a strong elevator pitch that highlights your key skill sets, passions, and job goals.

Mastering the informational interview for your job search
If you’re exploring new industries or career paths, incorporate informational interviews into your job-search strategy.

Work your next networking event
Build a strategy to maximize the benefits of every networking opportunity.

Want to learn more? Click on the following link for additional information on networking.

 

Amanda AugustineAmanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

 

16 Things You Should Do On Your Lunch Break Every Day

Jacquelyn Smith

Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff

Forbes.com

How do you spend your lunch break? Do you quickly chow down a sandwich at a nearby deli with your eyes glued to your Blackberry? Do you devour a salad at your desk with one hand on your keyboard? Perhaps you skip lunch altogether because you have “too much on your plate.”

“A common complaint I hear is about lunch time getting squeezed down to ten minutes, or to nothing at all, with people eating on the fly or eating while hunched over their computers,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, author and president of Humor at Work.

Why does this happen? Because America has become such a work-obsessed society that we tend to shun the notion of taking a break, explains Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD, organizational psychologist and author of The YOU Plan. “Just like professional athletes, we all need the energy from calories for our minds to function at their best. And we all need a little time to recharge, too.”

Last month I laid out the 16 things you should do at the start of every work day and the 16 things you should do at the end of every work day. I concluded that how you spend the first few and last few hours in the office can have a significant effect on your level of productivity. As it turns out, what you do during your lunch hour can be just as important, and that time shouldn’t be overlooked. Taking a midday break during which you refuel and re-energize can not only make you a better employee, but also a healthier and happier person.

“You should be as strategic about your lunch hour as you are about your day in general,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.

With the help of career and workplace experts Michael Kerr, Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Lynn Taylor, Anita Attridge, Alexandra Levit and David Shindler, I compiled a list of 16 things all workers should do during their lunch break.

“It’s critical to make the most of lunch and remind yourself that by taking a proper break you will accomplish more in the long run, and that productivity and creativity will increase, while your levels of stress and fatigue will diminish,” Kerr says.

Anita Attridge, a career and executive coach with the Five O’Clock Club, a career coaching organization, adds that taking time to disconnect from your work provides renewed energy, and, as a result, makes the rest of the day go more smoothly. “Typically, the afternoon can bring some lulls that can be offset by having been away from your desk. Talking with people about something besides work during lunchtime can also boost your energy level and improve your mood.”

Alexandra Levit, the author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success, agrees. A lunch break not only fuels your motivation to power toward the end of the day, it also gives you something to look forward to in the morning. “Most people accomplish work best in short bursts with breaks in between, so organizing your schedule around these natural energy peaks will help you be more productive.”

What you do during your midday break might vary depending on your job, company culture or personal priorities—but the experts agree all workers should try to do these 16 things during lunch hour:

Make a plan. “Don’t squander your lunch break because it’s ‘free time,’” Taylor says. Time is a non-renewable resource, wherever you are, whatever the time of day. Try your best to plan it out and make the most of it.

You should also plan your activities immediately after lunch, Kerr suggests. “Giving thought to how you prioritize and schedule events in the afternoon can maximize your productivity. For example, scheduling a meeting or conference call right after lunch may end up causing you stress over the lunch hour or you may end up squeezing the lunch break in order to get back in time and be ready for the meeting.”

Take a real break. Breaking from work for 60 seconds to chow down your lunch at your desk doesn’t count. “In order to get a period of true respite, the time has to involve an actual break from work,” Levit says. Try not to check your e-mail, bring work with you or talk about work during lunch.

Decompress. The first thing you should do when your lunch break begins is take a deep breath and relax, Taylor suggests. “You’ve likely been on over-drive all morning, putting out fires. Before you decide how to spend that golden hour, take a couple minutes to clear your head. Take your break-neck pace to a halt; don’t automatically jump to the next ‘to do’ item. When you’re relaxed, you can better strategize your goals with a broader and wiser perspective.”

Get up from your desk or work space. “Staying at your desk is a big no-no in my book,” Kerr says. “There are more and more reports on the dangers of sitting too long, so even just getting up to walk to another room to eat is important, or better still, getting outside for some fresh air and a quick walk can do wonders for the body and spirit.”

Even if you don’t sit at a desk, you should get away from your work space during lunch, as it will help you clear your mind. Continue reading

Sizing Up an Orrick-Pillsbury Combo

SAN FRANCISCO — The proposed merger of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman would instantly make the firm the biggest in the Bay Area, with nearly 500 lawyers split between the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices.

But that’s almost beside the point.

On each side, the strategic thinking seems more about strengthening practices and offices outside the Bay Area.

Both firms have long been cruising the merger market, with Orrick famously getting close a few times in recent years only to end up empty-handed. Pillsbury has done a series of combinations, yet today is the same size it was in 2001.

Orrick

Because the two S.F.–rooted firms have looked so far and wide for potential partners, there would be some irony should they wind up together. Partners at both firms are just learning about the deal, but are “more excited about this merger than any of the others,” said Sandy Lechtik, president and founder of Esquire Inc., a legal search firm in touch with lawyers at both firms. “It seems that the two firms will play to each other’s strengths and put wind in each other’s sails.”
The firms and their respective chairs aren’t speaking publicly about the merger talks or whether there has been a decision about who would lead the firm: Mitchell Zuklie, the young Valley-based Orrick chairman who took over in March, or James Rishwain Jr., the Los Angeles real estate partner who has helmed Pillsbury since 2006.

The consensus among industry strategists seems to be that large firms with shabby or indistinct brands need to get bigger to thrive. When he took over, Zuklie told The Recorder that he wanted the firm to be known for its practices rather than its management—a nod at the legacy left by the 20-year reign of Orrick’s Ralph Baxter, who built Orrick’s global network of offices but left the firm without the clear “this is what they do” identity enjoyed by a firm like Cooley, in the Valley, or Cravath, on Wall Street, or even rivals like Morrison & Foerster, with its tech emphasis.

pillsbury

“If you’re not going to have that uniqueness, there is a tremendous push for size,” said David Berger, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and chair of the firm’s policy committee.

Though smaller clients often say they don’t really want firms to get bigger, having a lot of bodies and offices around the world is seen as the key to landing work for global corporate giants. Put the two firms together, and they’d have several leading practices catering to that clientele, starting with Pillsbury’s crown-jewel energy practice, which would gain from Orrick’s strength in Africa and renewables. Orrick sees synergies from Pillsbury’s regulatory depth in D.C., courtesy of its 2005 merger with Shaw Pittman, and in the financial services sector, where the firms see cross-selling opportunities.

Orrick also likes Pillsbury’s corporate practice, which includes the Valley’s Jorge Del Calvo, and is a quiet IPO powerhouse: In 2012 it took five U.S. companies public, the same number as Cooley, ranking it fifth for IPOs.

But Pillsbury’s overall brand is a little beat-up. Widely viewed as the city’s preeminent firm a generation ago, it’s since given up ground—to Orrick, to Morrison & Foerster, to the tech-focused Valley firms. A former Orrick partner said his old firm “has more brand recognition and respect in the marketplace.”

GLOBAL FOOTPRINT

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5 Scary Mistakes to Avoid on Facebook

Most small-business owners know they need to be on Facebook, but it’s not always as simple as it sounds. A Facebook page requires not only hard work to achieve social media goals, but also care to avoid making a blunder that could hurt a company’s reputation, among other scary consequences.

Here are five mistakes to avoid when engaging with customers on the world’s largest social network:

1. Ignoring your Facebook page.

Once you establish your presence on Facebook, you must remain active to achieve your social media objectives. If you fail to post regularly, you can appear to be disinterested and lose your fan base. Instead, allot a certain amount of time each day — preferably multiple times a day — to post quality content and engage with current and potential customers.

dislike

Also be on the lookout for spam and erroneous comments. There are a couple ways to deal with them. On comments below a post of yours, mouse over the right side of the comment and an x will appear. When you click it, the comment will be hidden. For actual posts on your page, you can click “see all” on the right side of the page under recent comments. When you mouse over the right side of the comment and click the x, you will be given several options: highlight it, allow it to be seen, hide it or delete it and ban that person from commenting on your page again.

2. Breaking the rules.

You can’t do just anything you want on Facebook. As with other social media sites, it has “terms of service” that users must follow. If you violate these rules, Facebook can delete or suspend your account. Some of the most common violations involve the user name you choose, such as trademarked or obscene names. You also can’t curse or threaten other users. And spamming other pages with abusive messages or sales pitches is not tolerated.

If your page gets shut down, it’s a poor reflection on your brand, especially if potential customers can’t locate the page you listed in your ads or on your website.

3. Being a spammer.

Think of your Facebook page as your storefront. What kind of image do you want to project? Do you want to be that person who constantly talks about how great his product is and what a great discount he is offering this week? No, you shouldn’t.

Convey your personality and expert knowledge, and provide your fans with valuable insights. It isn’t wrong to occasionally let people know about a new product or a sale, but don’t be a spammer. If you want to promote something new, be subtle and creative. For instance, try taking a how-to approach or offer useful tips to get across your message. People don’t want to be sold to every second they’re on Facebook, but they do appreciate free information and advice.

4. Choosing the wrong person to manage your page.

You can assign people to manage, post and reply on your behalf on your company’s Facebook page. But be careful about whom you choose as your page manager. Page managers need to be familiar with your company’s social media policies and strategy, as well as your brand image, because they will be broadcasting information regularly to your fans. If a page manager posts anything offensive or at odds with your brand image, it could damage your company’s reputation. What’s more, disgruntled employees who have admin access could potentially remove you as the owner and take control of the page.

comments5. Neglecting to respond to feedback.

Your Facebook fans can be your biggest brand champions — or your worst enemies if you ignore them. If someone posts a comment on your page saying that your company took great care of him or her, be sure to express your thanks. Showing that you’re listening and appreciate feedback can encourage other fans to engage with you.

And don’t simply delete negative comments about your company. Take each one as an opportunity to turn that critic into a fan and potential customer. Respond quickly and address the issues. Let the critic know you’re fixing the problem and perhaps offer a discount on a future order. Also, you might tell the person to expect a call because you want to make sure the problem is corrected.

Levy, Scott. “5 Scary Mistakes to Avoid on Facebook.” Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur.com, 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

What Can We Expect From The Next Decade Of Marketing?

Today technology is transforming marketing once again.  Although up to this point, most of the impact has been tactical, over the next decade or so there will be a major strategic transformation.  This, of course, will be a much harder task because we will not only have to change what we do, but how we think and many will be left behind.  Here’s a short guide.

From Messages to Experiences

In the 20th century, promotion dominated the field of marketing.  While evaluating opportunities was important, advertising, especially on TV, was what drove budgets and, as a result, strategic thinking.  Notbusiness-client-meeting-handshake-closing surprisingly, coming up with the right message and broadcasting to the right people at the right time was of paramount importance.

Today, however, digital technology has enabled us to retarget consumers when they respond to a message and that has changed marketing forever.  In effect, we must make the shift from grabbing attention to holding attention.

That means that brands will have to learn to be more like publishers and learn content skills.  It also means that marketers will have to create a genuine value exchange rather than just coming up with catchy ad slogans and price promotions.  Like it or not, we’ve entered a post-promotional paradigm.

From Rational Benefits to The Passion Economy

In the past, we focused on rational benefits to entice consumers to support our brands.  Show that you are better in a clear, rational way and, so the thinking went, you could build a loyal following.

However, we’re not rational, calculating machines, but emotional driven creatures who are subject to an whole array of cognitive biases.  and new research has changed the psychology of marketing.  For example, research shows that while a price promotion may spurs sales, it lessens enjoyment and can hurt the brand long-term.

In effect, it’s become clear that we are not operating in a rational economy, but a passion economy, where a sense of purpose determines how people will act and brand associations, rather than brand attributes, determine marketing success.  So we’ll have to learn to focus on more than share of market, but also share of synapse.

From Strategic Planning to Adaptive Strategy

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Saying No to Big (but Scary) Opportunities Could Be Sabotaging Your Career

A few months ago, I was approached by one of the senior executives in my company, who said that he was looking for someone to spearhead a high-profile project, and that I had come highly recommended. As he pitched me the project idea, he warned that it would be a lot of pressure and a lot of risk—but in the end, it would put me on the fast track to a senior-level management position, in a company where advancement is typically slow.hiding under desk

He gave me the weekend to think about it, and I hemmed and hawed for two long days. While I wanted that promised promotion, the project terrified me. I would be in a completely unfamiliar environment with all eyes on me—including the CEO’s. In the end, I said no. My self-doubt got the better of me and I assumed I couldn’t do it—I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure and responsibility, and I surely wouldn’t have succeeded.

And as I watched another manager take over the project, recruit volunteers, and lead the team to success, all I could think was, that could have been me. I know—it might seem obvious that I should have taken it. But in the moment, I couldn’t gather the courage to take on a new, uncomfortable position when I’d just begun to feel confident in my current role.

The lesson, obviously, is this: When you’re offered a big opportunity, consider it carefully—even if it scares the heck out of you. In the end, high risk often leads to high reward. But if you turn down every opportunity that comes your way, you won’t even have the chance to succeed.

Muse, The. “5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Career Success.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 14 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Building a Better Smartphone: What’s Next?

By:  John Edwards

Just a few years from now your smartphone will be smaller, lighter, easier to use and more intuitive. On the other hand, smartphones might not even exist a few years from now, at least not in a readily visible form.

It was only six years ago that Apple released its original iPhone (actually a tiny personal computer with built-in communication capabilities) officially marking the end of the dumb phone era. Today, lawyers take their smartphones everywhere, using them to manage schedules, handle email, text messages, view documents, play games and even, from time to time, to place and answer phone calls.

future smartphoneSmartphones have evolved rapidly over the past few years. The iPhone of 1997 is already little more than a curious relic of a bygone era. Smartphone makers depend on rapid form and feature evolution to goose sales and expand market share in what is perhaps the world’s most cutthroat industry. A smartphone developer that fails to innovate, or innovates in the wrong way by unleashing a flawed or unpopular product, risks becoming the next Blackberry or Motorola — a former market leader bumped onto the shoulder of the smartphone superhighway by smarter, nimbler competitor.

With smartphone evolution unlikely to slow down anytime soon, it can be fun to look into the future and imagine what a typical smartphone might look like in, say, another five years. So, based on current business and technology trends —and some educated hunches — here are six features that are likely to enter the smartphone mainstream in the not too distant future.

1. Flexible Screens. Today, a phone’s size and shape is largely dictated by its display. But what if a display were so thin and flexible that it could fold in on itself, allowing the phone to assume different shapes according to its user’s preference? That’s what an upcoming generation of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays promise. OLEDs are so thin they can be placed on flexible materials (such as plastic or metal foil), allowing the development of bendable,
flexible and even rolling displays. Since these displays aren’t covered with glass, they’ll also be more durable and virtually shatter proof.

While flexible OLED smartphones are still in the R&D phase, and commercial models are at least two years away, Samsung has already unveiled the “Galaxy Skin,” a concept phone with a curved and flexible OLED display that can be folded into two or four parts as needed.

2. Holographic Screens. While some researchers are working on flexible screens, others are focusing on an entirely new type of display technology: holographic projections. In its most basic form, a holographic display could project a still image, such as a text or spreadsheet document. Sony and others are also toying with projecting a functional full-size keyboard.

Hewlett-Packard, however, has even grander plans. Earlier this year, scientists at HP’s Large-Scale Integrated Photonics lab demonstrated an inexpensive way of projecting color, no-glasses-need 3D images and video on small screens. While current generation 3D displays require the viewer to remain within a narrow range in front of the screen to get the full effect, HP’s prototype — using “directional pixels” — is fully viewable from a wide number of angles. “It’s like the Princess Leia hologram in Star Wars,” said an HP spokesman during a press briefing on the technology.

3. More Reliable Voice Commands. Apple introduced a voice control technology on its iPhone 3GS back in 2009. It didn’t work all that well and, despite gradual improvements over the years (i.e., Siri), voice command remains an imperfect technology.

Since an accurate voice command system is essential for using mobile devices without physical controls, various corporate and academic labs are continuing to refine the technology. Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas, for instance, claim to have developed systems that can identify speaking voices more clearly. Using algorithms and modeling techniques, the researchers are addressing and resolving voice recognition challenges related to whispering, speaking through various emotions (happy, sad, angry, excited, etc.) and talking with a stuffy nose.

While voice command technology may not be perfect five years from now, it should certainly be much more reliable than it is today.

4. Augmented Reality. With the help of augmented reality (AR) technology, smartphone users can get detailed information about a place or object by viewing on the phone’s display. Web-delivered data placed over images of office buildings, vehicles, conference rooms and other physical world venues and objects will give users quick facts on who or what they’re looking at, what’s about to happen there and other important bits of information. Embedded links will lead users to Web pages providing enhanced insight, such as a building’s history, client-related case data or the story behind a work of art.

AR also marks the next step in the evolution of geolocation technology. Just as vehicle navigation systems guide drivers along highways and local roads to specific locations, AR will help pedestrians find the right business in a mall, office in an office building, booth at a trade show and so on.

5. Longer Battery Life. Today’s smartphones pack huge, bright screens and high-end features that draw plenty of power, meaning they can only operate for a few hours before requiring a charge or a fresh battery. With smartphones likely to become even more power thirsty in the years ahead, the rush is on to develop new battery technologies that can deliver more energy for longer periods of time in packages that are both size and weight efficient.

One promising battery technology is taking shape at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL researchers have designed and tested a solid lithium-sulfur battery with approximately four times the energy density of the conventional lithium-ion technologies that power today’s electronics. The ORNL battery design, which uses abundant and low-cost elemental sulfur, also resolves the flammability danger posed by Lithium-ion batteries.

6.Wearable Smartphones. Here’s where the phone becomes, in a practical sense, invisible. Looking beyond basic wearable devices, such as wristwatch and lapel pin phones, researchers are now investigating ways of weaving smartphone circuitry directly into clothing. Phone circuitry will eventually become so small, durable, and inexpensive that clothing manufacturers can weave the technology directly into business suits and other types of everyday apparel. Since an attorney might eventually assemble an entire wardrobe of phone-embedded apparel, subscriber, contact and other types of data could be invisibly loaded into each phone from either the cloud or perhaps an RFID (Radio Frequency ID) card located inside the wearer’s wallet or purse.

Phone-embedded garments could arrive relatively soon. This summer, scientists at the U.K’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL), announced they had developed a way of printing silver directly onto fabric fibers. The new technique could make integrating electronics into all types of clothing simple and practical.

The only existing way of creating wearable electronics weaves conductive materials into the fabric, an approach that allows only limited flexibility and can only be achieved when integrated into the design of the clothing from the start. NPL’s technique could allow lightweight circuits to be printed directly onto complete garments. Silver-coated fibers created using the new technique are flexible and stretchable, meaning circuits could be easily printed onto many types of fabric, the researchers say.

Edwards, John. “Building a Better Smartphone: What’s Next?” Building a Better Smartphone: What’s Next? Law Technology News, 4 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2013.