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Case Study

Windows 10 Drives
Compliance and Increased
Efficiency for Law Office
Floridas Fifth Circuit Public Defenders Office
needed Windows-based mobile technology to
minimize case prep time and better serve clients

Danny Armas
Director of Information Technology
Fifth Circuit Public Defenders Office, Florida

or attorneys with Floridas Fifth Circuit Public Defenders Office, having immediate access
to notes, evidence and documents can be the difference between freedom or incarceration

for clients. Until a few years ago, these attorneys relied primarily on handwritten documents for
case management, which they carried from the office to the jail or courthouse in stuffed briefcases. It was an effective, albeit inefficient, old-school system.
One of 20 Florida public defenders offices that provide court-appointed defense to indigent
clients in criminal, juvenile delinquency and mental health court cases, the Fifth Circuit encompasses five counties and employs more than 65 attorneys to handle the caseload, which
can be 150 or more cases per attorney. So those briefcases had to hold a lot of information.
A few years ago, the state mandated public defenders offices submit all documents and files
electronically. With the mandate, it didnt make sense to continue working with pen and paper
and manually input information into digital form. So the office digitized all of its forms and
documents and started encouraging attorneys to use OneNote for note taking, says Danny
Armas, the offices Director of Information Technology.

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The attorneys used Dell desktop computers, but those couldnt go with them to court or
the jail like paper could. Looking for a mobile solution, the office first bought Apple iPads.
That worked okay, but sharing information between the devices added hours of prep time.
The iPads could only connect wirelessly and didnt have extended-memory slots, so the
attorneys had to wait for the Windows-based server to wirelessly sync with the devices.
Some large files, like high-definition video footage, took a long time to download, Armas says.
Users had to navigate two different platforms, and the extra steps could be time-consuming.
And some users simply prefer to write with a pen, which wasnt an option with the iPads.
[The iPads] opened the door to a ton of preparation that ate up a lot of timewhich led
many to not use the devices at all, Armas says.
With the volume of clients the attorneys have, time is everything. The hope was switching to
Window-based tablets could cut down this preparation time; and a powerful processer could
provide even faster access to all the information they need, wherever they need it.

A single device to replace a tablet and a desktop computer

n our third year with the iPads, it didnt make sense to keep rolling them out and supporting
two platformsso we started replacing them with Microsoft Surface Pro 3s, Armas says.

The office issued Surface Pro 3s with Intel Core i5 processors and 4 GB of RAM to a handful of
attorneys and support staff early in the new year.
The Surface Pros replaced their iPads as well as their Dell desktops. The Intel chips are so
efficient and so powerful, our Surface Pro users dont miss their other devices at all, Armas
says. Performance per watt is significantly higher than their previous desktopsproviding the
high performance of a desktop-level processor with the power draw of ultra-mobile devices.
The Surface Pros came with Microsoft Windows 8.1, but many of the early users had issues
with the missing start menu bar. Within weeks, Armas began upgrading to Windows 10.
In IT, we saw the benefit of a full-screen start menu (instead of the start menu bar) when youre
on a mobile platform, he says.

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Windows 10 freed users from the start menu issues. While the Surface Pro maintains a
similar interface when in tablet modea format that makes it easy to swipe and navigate
to applications and programs when theres no mouse or keyboardwhen its docked, the
Surface Pro has a more traditional interface with a start menu bar.
That trait sold us. It was a good meeting in the middle for our users, he says.
The Surface Pros let them meet in the middle in another way, too: They include pens, so
users can write on the screens as they would on paper.
Upgrading to Windows 10 only took 30 to 45 minutes per machine, Armas says. In less than
three months, every attorney and some support staff had one.
Users take [the Surface Pros] with them everywhere they goconferences, courtrooms,
whereverso its really become their entire office in a mobile, compact design.

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Nearly $30,000 and countless time saved

he Dell desktops and iPads cost about $1,500 total for each attorney. But the office was
able to purchase Surface Pro 3s for $1,100 eachmeaning a $28,800 savings in this years

budget, since they replaced 72 desktop/tablet combos. Plus, the Surface Pros solid state
drive likely means a longer lifespan than the iPads had, Armas says, which equates to even
more savings for the taxpayers who fund the office.
As far as time goes, the attorneys make about three jail visits a week; with the iPads, prep time
for each visit was one or two hours because of syncing data. With the Surface Pro 3s as their
main computers, this time has diminished to the point where you cant quantify it, Armas says.
When docked, the Surface Pro lets users with multiple monitors have the same number of
desktops, easily creating a workspace with separate sections. And with the Snap feature,
they can actually snap a pane to each corner of the screen, putting four panes on a single
screen at one time.

[The attorneys] have the mentality that if they close something, theyll forget about it,
Armas said. So, theyll leave things open and have multiple panes and multiple desktops,
which you could do in the past. But before Snap, you didnt have the organization of
changing entire workspaces on the fly. They really like this feature.
Users have also found the beauty of the Windows 10 action center. They use it to quickly
make changes, such as muting the device or setting a quiet hour in the courtroom. With
the iPad, this required digging for the buttonbut now its right up front.
I think they feel more savvy with Windows 10, and they dont need or rely on IT as much as
they used to, Armas says. Users can fend for themselves, which allows IT to deal with the
real issues, the other things going on in the background that can cause even more havoc.
For the attorneys, the power of the Intel processor and the intuitiveness of Windows 10
means they can close cases faster and move on the next one soonerwhile actually improving their thoroughness because of the everywhere-they-need-it nature of the Surface Pro.
Typically, when the IT team deploys new devices, the happy/disgruntled ratio is 50/50
or worse, Armas says. With the Surface Pro 3 and Windows 10, theres been nearly
unanimous approval.
Even the people who we thought would be difficult came back a few days later and told
us how much they loved [the new devices] and how IT finally made a good decision.

I think users feel more savvy with Windows 10,

and they dont need or rely on IT as much as
they used to. They can fend for themselves,
which allows IT to deal with the real issues,
the other things going on in the background
that can cause even more havoc.

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Harnessing the power of Windows 10

hether deployed on the Surface Pro 3, a laptop or a desktop, Windows 10 offers the
latest in security and interface innovations, with the flexibility to get more work done.

The traditional start menu is back, more personal and organized than ever. But users can
still enjoy easy swipe access to apps when theyre in mobile mode, as well as Cortana the
personal assistant, Windows Hello for smooth, quick and secure sign-in, and a slew of new
security features.
If youre ready to upgrade to Windows 10, PCM offers a full range of technology services and
solutions, and can help you make the move. PCM understands that IT is complex, but regardless of your particular needs, we can help.
Call PCM today to get the right solutions, delivered.

Case Study