Why Should You Hire the Lento Law Firm?
Legal problems can be incredibly stressful. During this challenging time, a dedicated and reliable attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your matter. If you're seeking legal guidance, I have the expertise that you need. The Lento Law Firm is focused solely on the needs of my clients. I provide professional and effective representation.
Is your professional license under threat? The Lento Law Firm can help!
As a licensed professional, you've invested lots of time and money to earn the right to make a living in your chosen profession—and you've also worked hard to earn the public's trust. To have that trust jeopardized by allegations of misconduct and the threat of disciplinary action by the board—that's a crisis of monumental proportions. Your professional license is a precious asset—it's the key to your career. Having that license suspended or revoked would be absolutely devastating.
That's why, when your state's licensing board first notifies you of a complaint against you and a pending investigation, the first thing you should do is hire an attorney with experience in professional license expense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento defends licensed professionals in many fields across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, and we have an excellent track record both in averting license suspension and mitigating other penalties so our clients can move ahead confidently with their careers.
What Happens When You Lose Your License
When a state licensing board decides to revoke your professional license, the negative impacts are both immediate and far-reaching. Here are just a few examples of the fallout that may occur:
- Immediate loss of income. License suspension/revocation removes your right to work immediately, with no expectation of severance or unemployment benefits. This can quickly cascade into financial difficulty, depending on your financial obligations (e.g., losing the lease on your practice, collectors calling on unpaid bills, etc.).
- Your patients/clients are left in the lurch. Unless you have a good referral system, the people who rely on your professional services may be suddenly left hanging, scrambling to find someone else.
- Difficulty finding alternate work. Sometimes you may be able to find other employment within your professional field that does not require a license—but having your license revoked certainly doesn't look good on a resume, nor does it build the trust of potential employers.
- Challenges with getting reinstated. Most licensing boards require you to wait a number of years before applying for a reinstatement of your license. They may require you to jump through a lot of hoops and still deny your license at the end of it. In some extreme cases, a person's license may never be reinstated.
- Inability to get licensed elsewhere. If you've had your license revoked in one state, don't expect just to get a new license in another state. Most state boards will check.
- Lasting damage to your professional reputation. Even if your license is reinstated, board disciplinary actions become a matter of public record, weakening your credibility and possibly causing you to be turned down for jobs or to lose clients.
As you can see, there's a lot at stake for your career, even if you believe the complaint against you is unfounded. Hiring an attorney skilled in license defense can help you avoid these devastating consequences.
Even If You Keep Your License, Your Career May Suffer Harm
In many cases where the board investigates allegations of misconduct against you, they may opt for a lesser penalty besides revoking your license. Other penalties or sanctions may include:
- License suspension—prohibiting you from acting in a professional capacity for a certain length of time
- Fines—assigning monetary damages for violating the terms of your license
- Restitution—requiring you to cover any damage to clients or employers that may have occurred
- Mandatory continuing education—requiring you to attend courses to fill gaps in your education
- Formal reprimand or censure
Any of these sanctions, including a reprimand (which is the mildest penalty), typically becomes public record. Any colleague, employer, client, or patient can conduct a simple Internet search and see if you have been disciplined or if your license has been suspended or revoked. This may make them less likely to hire you, to do business with you, or to entrust you with the service or care you provide.
For this reason, you should always have a skilled attorney representing your interests when the licensing board is investigating any complaint against you—even if the complaint is seemingly minor. The involvement of a professional license defense attorney can greatly improve your chances of dismissing the complaint or limiting the damage to your professional record.
What Does a License Defense Attorney Do?
Professional licensing falls under administrative law, the section of the law that covers the regulation and administration of government agencies, including state regulatory boards. These boards oversee approvals for professional licensing, review and investigate complaints, and administer disciplinary action for licensees who are found in violation of the rules of licensure. A good professional license defense attorney has extensive knowledge of how these regulatory boards operate in your state and can be an incredible asset to helping save your license from being threatened.
Some of the things a licensed defense attorney can do for you:
- Serve as your official legal representation before the regulatory board at all stages of a complaint—including investigations, hearings, and appeals.
- Provide experienced counsel as to the complaint against you, what it could mean for your career, and what you can do to defend against it.
- Gather evidence and witnesses that bolster your defense against the complaint.
- Negotiate with the licensing board for dismissal of the complaint or a reduction of possible penalties.
- Negotiate for the best possible terms if you decide to enter a “Consent Decree”—an agreed-upon action plan with the board in return for keeping your license intact.
- Coordinate the process of applying for reinstatement of your license (if it has been suspended or revoked), including filing documents, paying fees, and following up with the board regarding your reinstatement status.
Whom We Can Help
The Lento Law Firm helps professionals in many occupational fields when their licenses come under threat due to alleged misconduct or other licensing issues. These include, but are not limited to:
- Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs)
- Real Estate Agents
- …and more!
What Allegations We Can Defend Against
The Lento Law Firm can provide professional license defense against a wide range of allegations, ranging from minor to severe. These may include (but are not limited to):
- Professional misconduct—alleged behavior that violates the occupational rules and ethics associated with your profession.
- Sexual misconduct—allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate relationships, etc.
- Alleged incompetence—examples may include faulty record-keeping, mishandling patient/client information, or serious occupational mistakes that could cause harm.
- Fraud—examples include overbilling customers/patients or attempting to defraud insurance companies.
- Substance abuse or addiction—many regulatory agencies may revoke a professional license due to alleged substance abuse (especially if you appear impaired on the job).
- Criminal convictions—depending on your occupation, your license could be jeopardized if you are convicted of a crime.
The Danger of “Going It Alone”
When you are notified by your licensing board that there has been a complaint against you and they are investigating it, you may be tempted (as many professionals are) to try and resolve the matter yourself. Many people mistakenly believe that the complaint against them is little more than a misunderstanding, and if they just “explain themselves” to the board, the matter can be resolved informally. Likewise, if the board calls a hearing, you may be tempted to appear before the board on your own behalf, believing you can explain the situation better than anyone else.
However, for most licensed professionals, “going it alone” is a serious mistake. Here's why:
- The licensing board is not your friend. The board is not there to protect you. It is there to protect the public against “bad actors” within your profession. It is there to make sure you follow the rules, to discipline you if you don't, and to prohibit you from continued operations if they deem it necessary. Therefore, anything you say or do can be used against you—even if expressed informally. An attorney can protect you from missteps that could worsen your penalties or even cost you your license.
- This is a legal matter, not a professional one. The licensing board is an agent of the state, and if there is a hearing regarding your complaint, it will take place in a legal setting. Most licensed professionals aren't skilled enough in matters of the law to represent themselves in a legal environment. (Even attorneys hire other attorneys to represent them.) Attempting to represent yourself to the board is not unlike representing yourself in a civil or criminal lawsuit. You have the right to do it, but it will probably not go well for you without an attorney there to help.
- This is not “innocent until proven guilty.” Unlike a criminal case, a regulatory board doesn't necessarily have to be convinced “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed a violation. You need to go into any investigation assuming the burden of proof is on you, not on the licensing board. There's no greater need for legal representation than in a situation where the odds are stacked against you.
Bottom line: You can always choose to speak and act on your own behalf in responding to a complaint or a licensing board investigation. But in most cases, it will put you at a severe disadvantage. Hiring an attorney almost always improves your chances for a more positive outcome—or at least one with lesser penalties.
When Should You Involve an Attorney?
Some licensed professionals wait to hire an attorney until they discover the licensing board is going to hold a formal hearing against them. If you wait that long, however, you're going into the hearing at a disadvantage from the start. The reason? By the time the board decides to hold a formal hearing, they have already been investigating you for some time (possibly for months), and they wouldn't be holding the hearing unless they believed they had significant evidence against you.
A much better solution is to hire an attorney as soon as you receive notice of a formal complaint against you. By involving an attorney at the beginning of the disciplinary process, you're greatly improving your odds that the matter can be resolved before ever making it to the hearing phase. A good license defense attorney can very often negotiate to have the complaint dismissed, and almost always negotiate for better terms than you would have gotten otherwise.
Don't Gamble with Your Career
You worked long and hard to get where you are today. Simply meeting the demands to obtain a professional license can be grueling in and of itself. Your entire career and livelihood hinge on that license. Don't allow a misunderstanding or lapse in judgment to put that future in jeopardy, and don't take unnecessary chances with your future. Joseph D. Lento has helped many clients save their professional licenses from suspension and revocation. He understands the inner workings of the regulatory boards in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, and he knows how to help you navigate the process to the best possible outcome for you and for your career.
If your license is in jeopardy, every minute counts. Reclaim your life and your career today. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to discuss your case and evaluate your options.