General Board Process Defense Attorneys
If you have received a complaint against you from your licensing board or agency, you may be wondering what happens next and how an attorney or law firm can help you in this process. Most professional licensing boards and agencies share certain common procedural stages:
- Initial response to complaint – After the agency or board receives and processes the complaint, you will be required to respond in some way. Generally, the response is in writing, although some boards gather information through interviews with you and others by an investigator. (We regularly assist clients with written responses and are flexible in working with clients in doing so, ranging from preparing and signing responses ourselves on clients’ behalf, to reviewing responses prepared by clients and having them submit the response in their own name; we also routinely attend initial interviews with clients);
- Informal conference/interview/meeting: After reviewing your written response and possibly conducting some more investigation, many agencies schedule an informal meeting to discuss matters on which they may potentially take action against you. This meeting often occurs with members of the agency’s staff and at least one member of the licensing board or agency. You are free to bring counsel to these informal meetings. (If the complaint moves beyond a written response, this is often the most effective procedural stage for counsel experienced in disciplinary matters, like our office, to assist you); More Info
- Probable cause review: A determination is made by the licensing board or agency about whether there is probable cause to believe that a violation of the applicable standards, regulations or statutes has occurred. This may result in proposed disciplinary action or a referral for a formal hearing. With almost all boards and agencies, neither you nor your counsel is permitted to be present at this stage.
- Formal disciplinary proceedings: This involves a formal hearing before the licensing board or agency, or before an administrative law judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings. Generally, the formal hearing has all the same aspects and components of a civil trial, but without a jury. Absent a resolution by consent order, the licensing board or agency issues a decision or an ALJ issues a recommendation to the licensing entity. (If they haven’t done so already, most professionals decide that they need to retain an attorney at the formal stage, with which our firm has considerable experience); More Info
- Potential appeal to superior court or appellate courts: Generally, appeals are provided but the basis for appealing is limited. The appeal is based upon the record developed at the administrative level; it is not a new trial before the courts. Ordinarily, the courts will only reverse or modify an agency decision if it finds that a licensed professional’s substantial rights may have been prejudiced for several identified reasons. (We believe that an attorney’s ability to positively affect a client’s matter at this stage is much more limited than if representation begins at the administrative level);
Each agency has its own unique variations on these procedures and certain boards and agencies are not required to follow the general procedures outlined above. We are happy to explain these differences and variations through an individual consultation.
Because we primarily represent individual professionals, we offer different types of fee arrangements and do our best to keep the fees and expenses reasonable and affordable. Also, some malpractice or liability insurance policies have coverage for the costs of hiring an attorney to represent you in disciplinary proceedings before your licensing board or agency and often allow you to choose your own counsel. You should review your policy, contact your insurance agent, or bring the policy in during the initial meeting with our office to determine if you have such coverage.