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The old motor home had been rusting away behind attorney Rick Georges’ St. Petersburg, Fla., home for years. One Saturday in 1994, on a whim, Georges painted the word “lawyer” on a sign and packed his laptop computer, cellular phone and portable printer aboard the aging beater. He drove to the Wagon Wheel Flea Market in Odessa, Fla., partly to drum up clients who needed his services, and partly to show off his collection of computer gadgets. He found clients, and with his complete office on wheels, he drafted wills and provided other services right on the spot. Ironically, that old motor home led to Georges’ new career as one of the legal profession’s top computer mavens. A reporter for a legal newspaper soon discovered him dispensing legal advice at his flea market booth and wrote a story about him. The editor then invited him to write a regular technology column called “Future Lawyer.” It quickly became a hit among lawyers. “Pretty soon, I was getting 10 to 15 invites a year to do presentations around the country,” he says. When Georges spoke at the Florida Bar’s midyear conference in mid-January in Miami, where he gave lawyers an update on the latest in mobile Internet access, he was unfazed even when his satellite connection crashed in the middle of the talk. He just kept talking up the wonders of what the new technology can do for lawyers’ practices. Inspired by the success of his “Future Lawyer” column, Georges launched his own Web site, http://www.futurelawyer.com/, to disseminate his technology columns to a broader audience. That attracted attention from attorneys and technology manufacturers across the country. Computer companies invited him to participate in tests of their products and to write reviews. Although he no longer hawks legal services at the Wagon Wheel, Georges, a sole practitioner focusing on real estate law, still takes technology on the road. Through columns and seminars, he points lawyers to the best software and portable computer products for their practices, and teaches them how to do research on the Internet. “Rick is the legal technology expert in the South,” says Brent Rose, CEO of Tactical Advantage, a St. Petersburg company that operates a legal software Web site. “He’s pretty much known as the go-to lawyer.” Indeed, Georges has thought a lot about how technology helps lawyers in their practice. “The efficient use of technology frees the lawyer to do more thinking and less clerical work,” he explains. “And technology allows the lawyer to be productive whether at home, in an airport terminal, or traveling.” He believes it reduces the stress of travel, though not all lawyers agree. Becoming a technology guru has enabled Georges to move away from litigation, which he was enjoying less and less. “Lawyering is a type of combat,” he says. “The older I get, the less I enjoy the negative energy. I’m having more fun playing with toys.” A Jacksonville, Fla., native, Georges, 53, attended Stetson University law school, and has practiced in the Tampa Bay area since 1972. He first fell in love with computers when his wife bought him an Atari 800 game machine in 1980. He quickly found that it doubled as a word processor. “Typing is for secretaries,” his skeptical attorney friends told him. But he was hooked. Other than two rare cockatiels he keeps in a cage, the main feature of his office is the clutter of computer equipment. He regularly uses a Pentopia by Pilot, a ballpoint pen that doubles as a stylus for writing on his handheld computer. While working, he flips on his MP3 player to listen to music downloaded from the Internet and also to record thoughts. Even on the move, he’s a walking advertisement for cutting-edge gadgets. He carries a Palm Vx hand-held computer equipped with a global navigation system that creates customized maps. Its fold-out keyboard and port connector allow him to link to his office computer and work almost anywhere. But his most valuable tool is still his laptop, which allows him to transfer work between home, office and travel. Georges buys all the latest gizmos and plays with them until he learns how attorneys might tailor them for their particular practices. “Rick is always on the bleeding edge,” says J.R. Phelps, director of the Florida Bar’s law office management assistance service, joking that Georges buys the newest devices when they are still way too expensive. Georges says the most useful new technology developments for lawyers are notebook computers and other advances in mobile software and hardware, wireless Internet products, and handheld computers known as personal digital assistants. “I’m really excited about the connection of hand-helds to the Web by wireless devices like the OmniSky wireless modem,” he says. But the Internet and its information-gathering capacity dwarfs everything else in significance, he says. He’s particularly bullish on Internet-based legal research products like those made by VersusLaw Inc., which, he says, reduce research costs. Georges enjoys sharing his expertise with other lawyers for free. He does unpaid technology presentations for the Florida Bar three to five times a year. Still, with so many attorneys asking him for advice, Georges has turned his hobby into a side business. Until recently, when his law practice became too busy, Georges consulted with individual attorneys and small law firms. Charging $150 per hour, Georges helped them select legal software, installed it on their computer systems and trained them in its use. He mainly provided basic Internet training. He also has acted as a sales agent for Amicus Attorney and PCLaw. “I like Amicus and PCLaw because they are Windows-based and easy to use,” he explains. “But the desktop software model is on the way out. In the future, Web-based products will control.” Clearwater, Fla., sole practitioner George Tragos hired him last spring to install Amicus, an office organizer. Georges helped Tragos choose an organizer package. “There are a lot of consultants out there, but not many practice law,” Tragos says. “He understood the practical aspects of what I needed.” Georges doesn’t charge for writing reviews of software or hardware. Nor does he make any money from his Web site. He says working for free gives him freedom. If he doesn’t like a product, he refuses to write about it. The only products he gets paid for promoting, he says, are Amicus, PCLaw and AttorneysUSA. He wrote favorably about them before signing on as an agent. Georges recently started doing sales and marketing part time for Tactical Advantage’s AttorneysUSA.com. It’s a software product and Internet portal intended to offer almost everything a law office needs for its business — an online calendar, a personal information manager, electronic mail, time and billing software, document processing, case management and legal research tools. The applications all run on the Internet. “I like the Web-based software model,” Georges says. “It represents the future of computing.” Although his national reputation continues to grow, it still surprises Georges when someone offers to pay him for his computer expertise. “Hey, I’m from the early computer days,” he marvels, “when information was free and you shared it with everyone.”

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