Illinois CPA Professional License Defense

A CPA license defense is never a simple matter. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is a powerful institution with the authority to issue charges, initiate investigations, conduct hearings, and assign sanctions. That authority isn't just a matter of public policy. It carries with it the force of law.  

Any time you're facing a charge of misconduct, it's a big deal. Obviously, your license means everything to you. Any time it's in jeopardy, you have to take the situation seriously. But it's no easy task taking on the IDFPR. The law is complex, and defending yourself sometimes requires subtle interpretations of language and the ability to use judicial rules to your advantage. The processes and procedures are complicated, and the slightest misstep can have enormous repercussions on your chances of success. 

What do you do if you should find yourself charged? How do you protect yourself from probation, license suspension, and outright license revocation?  

The good news is that the law allows you to retain legal counsel in these cases. In fact, the IDFPR “strongly encourages you” to retain an attorney any time you're facing disciplinary action.  

However, not just any attorney will do in cases like these. You need an attorney who understands how judicial procedures work in professional license cases. You need an attorney who has experience working with the Illinois professional licensing system. In short, you need someone from the Lento Law Firm.  

The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has helped hundreds of clients just like you to successfully defend themselves from all types of charges. We know the law, and we know how to use it to your best advantage. We work with CPAs from across Illinois, from Rockford to Carbondale, Chicago to Quincy, and all points in between. For more information, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or let us know more about your case by filling out our online questionnaire.  

Just What Can Put Your CPA License at Risk? 

As mentioned, Illinois-licensed CPAs are under the jurisdiction of the IDFPR. Ultimately, though, IDFPR rules and regulations are encoded in the Illinois Public Accounting Act.  

As you are well aware, the list of rules Illinois CPAs must follow is long. There are rules about how many continuing education credits you need when renewing your license (120). There are rules governing how the Peer Review process works. In fact, there are so many rules and regulations that we could not possibly list them all here. However, it is worth pointing out the most significant kinds of misconduct the IDFPR handles each year. While you likely know all of these, they are significant enough that it's worth reviewing them. 

  • Negligence 
  • Fraud, Deceit, and Misrepresentation 
  • Failure to Follow Professional Standards 
  • Criminal Convictions 
  • Administrative Actions by Other Government Authorities (SEC, IRS, etc.) 
  • Administrative Violations Related to License Application and Renewal 

Whether you're dealing with one of these issues or another that we didn't mention, the attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are experienced in handling all types of CPA license defenses. We've worked with hundreds of professionals. We know the law, and we know how to navigate the system. 

The Disciplinary Process for CPAs in Illinois 

The IDFPR's disciplinary process can be quite complex. That's one reason it's so crucial you have a Lento Law Firm attorney to help guide you through it. As you might expect, cases typically begin with a complaint. Complaints can lead to investigations, and investigations often lead to hearings. Depending on the outcome of those hearings, you can be subject to sanctions.  

Let's review each step in this process. 


Complaints can arise from a number of different sources, including 

  • Consumers 
  • Colleagues 
  • Supervisors 
  • Professional Societies, such as the Illinois CPA society  
  • Law Enforcement Agencies 
  • Other Government Agencies (IRS, SEC, etc.) 

In addition, Illinois state law grants the IDFPR the authority to pursue its own investigations. The state has an active Peer Review system, and all licensed CPAs are required to complete a review as a condition of license renewal. In fact, refusal to participate in peer review is its own grounds for disciplinary action. Peer reviews sometimes raise misconduct concerns. Anyone at the IDFPR, though, can file a complaint. 


Just because someone has raised a complaint about you does not mean you'll necessarily wind up with a sanction. The IDFPR must first conduct a thorough investigation. In fact, even before the investigation, the department must determine that a complaint is both credible and actionable. Even at this early stage, then, there may be opportunities for your Lento Law Firm attorney to intervene, help the IDFPR to recognize that a complaint isn't under its jurisdiction, or work to resolve misunderstandings before they turn into full-blown investigations.  

Should your case proceed to an investigation, you can expect the IDFPR to provide you with written notice of the charges. This notice should include details about the allegation, details that can help you begin to mount your defense. In addition, it should include a list of your due process rights, like the right to a presumption of innocence and the right to review evidence in the case. Finally, the notice should offer you the chance to provide a response to the charges against you.  

During the investigative process, the IDFPR has the power to issue subpoenas compelling witnesses to testify. Importantly, you are granted this right as well.  

Perhaps your most important right, though, is the right to legal representation. This means that your Lento Law Firm attorney can work with you on your behalf. You don't want to wait to contact the firm, though, as any missteps during the initial investigative phase can have enormous impacts on your defense. Among the many services your attorney will provide during the investigation, they will 

  • Work with you to develop a defense strategy 
  • Draft your response to the charges 
  • Help you formulate answers to questions 
  • Gather and submit evidence in support of your case 
  • Negotiate with all parties on your behalf 

More important than anything else, your Lento Law Firm attorney can be on hand during all meetings and proceedings to make sure the IDFPR respects your rights.  


You are further entitled to mount a full defense at a formal hearing before a Hearing Officer appointed by the IDFPR. While state law does not go into detail as to how such hearings should be conducted, you can expect the opportunity to offer arguments, present evidence, and question witnesses. Here are the basics of how the process should work.  

  • You should have ample time before the hearing to review all the evidence the IDFPR gathered during its investigation with your attorney. 
  • Through your attorney, you may offer up an opening statement, framing your case for the Hearing Official. 
  • You may—again, through your attorney—call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Additionally, you may cross-examine any witnesses against you. Of course, the department has these same rights. 
  • Typically, the legal standard applied in these kinds of decisions is “clear and convincing.” This standard is less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, it does require that the Hearing Officer believe the evidence against you is “substantially” more likely to be true than not.  
  • Ultimately, it is the Secretary of the Department who has responsibility for determining your guilt or innocence and assigning any sanctions as necessary. This constitutes an appeals process, since the Secretary has the power to set aside a Hearing Officer's guilty verdict. Additionally, the law grants you the right to seek judicial review of the decision in the Illinois courts. 


Should the IDFPR find you guilty of an offense, it can choose between a number of possible sanctions.   

  • Formal reprimand 
  • Probation 
  • Imposition of requirements such as additional continuing education hours, supervision, or periodic peer review 
  • Imposition of a fine not to exceed $10,000 per violation 
  • Restrictions on the scope of practice 
  • License suspension 
  • License revocation 

Keep in mind that any sanction can have profound repercussions on your ability to work as a CPA. Obviously, revocation means the end of your career. Suspension interrupts your practice and can inconvenience customers. Even something as relatively minor as a formal reprimand, though, can cause problems if it should become public. Illinois does not publish disciplinary actions taken against professionals, but a word of disciplinary action can find its way into the media or onto social media platforms. That could be enough to scare away customers and damage your business. 

Why You Need Someone from the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team 

You should have a clear sense at this point why it's so important you have someone from the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team on your side any time your license is called into question, but to review:  

  • Your career—your livelihood—is at stake. Losing your license means starting over from scratch, but even lesser penalties can cause significant damage to your career. You can't afford to try and handle your case on your own. 
  • These cases are tremendously complex. A proper defense requires an in-depth understanding of Illinois law, a familiarity with the rules and procedures of the Illinois administrative judicial system, and experience in building a case and using the law to your best advantage. Only someone from the Lento Law Firm is going to have the knowledge and skill to guide you through the process.  
  • The IDFPR is your adversary in this instance. You may be used to thinking of the department as an ally. The IDFPR conducts the licensing system for CPAs, for instance. It offers training programs, and it serves as your representation to the Illinois legislature. If you've been accused of committing some form of misconduct, though, or in some other way of violating Illinois state policy, the IDFPR's job is to prove you responsible. In such cases, you need someone on your side, someone looking out for your best interests. You need an attorney from the Lento Law Firm. 

The reason Illinois law gives you the right to legal representation in professional license defenses is because it recognizes that the process demands you have one. There's no question that you're smart and capable. You wouldn't have gotten to where you are otherwise. You're not an attorney, though. It's our job to deal with bureaucracy and to help guide you through complicated judicial procedures. 

Keep in mind, though, that you don't want just any attorney. A local or family attorney won't have the skills a Lento Law Firm attorney does. Certainly, they are skilled at dealing with local issues—wills and minor criminal charges. For a license defense, though, you need someone who concentrates on that particular area of the law, someone who understands the professional licensing system in Illinois, and someone who has experience representing CPAs and other professionals.  

The Lento Law Firm was actually built to handle professional license defenses. We've represented hundreds of professional clients in all types of cases, from simple license denial appeals to complicated allegations of sexual harassment. No one is better qualified to represent you. 

What Can the Lento Law Firm Do for You? 

The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can help you defend yourself from any charges that might threaten your CPA license. Because we understand the Illinois state licensing system, we can help with other licensing as well. 

  • If you need help navigating the licensing system, we can walk you through the entire process. 
  • If you've been denied a license for any reason, we can work with you to challenge the Illinois Board of Examiners
  • If you've already been through a misconduct hearing and been sanctioned, we can help you appeal that sanction. 
  • If you're moving from another state, we can guide you through the process of obtaining your Illinois license. 

And we work with CPAs across the state, including in 

  • Chicago 
  • Springfield 
  • Decatur 
  • Champaign 
  • Bloomington 
  • Peoria 
  • Rockford 
  • Joliet 
  • Elgin 
  • Aurora 
  • Waukegan 
  • Naperville 

To find out more about exactly what the Lento Law Firm can do for you, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or use our online form


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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