When you are licensed by the state to perform a professional service, it comes with an expectation that you will live up to certain ethical and professional standards to uphold the public trust. State licensing boards are there to ensure that you are in compliance with these standards, which means your career basically hinges on your license.
That said, an unfortunate tradeoff for working in a public trust position is that all it takes to jeopardize your professional license is a single complaint or allegation of wrongdoing. If you are accused of a violation, it can trigger an investigation by the licensing board resulting in possible disciplinary action against your professional license. Worst-case scenario, your license could be suspended or revoked.
Because state licensing boards have a wide range of discretion when it to issuing discipline—and a fairly low burden of proof—it's essential to be represented by a skilled professional license defense attorney at the first sign of trouble. Attorney Joseph D. Lento helps licensed professionals throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York whose licenses are under scrutiny. If you are licensed in any of the following professions in these states, the Lento Law Firm can work to mitigate damage to your license and potentially save your career.
Being entrusted with the sensitive financial information of individuals and businesses requires a high level of professionalism and ethics. So does offering sound financial advice that could have a profound impact. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has established a baseline code of conduct that is honored by most states as to how accountants should conduct themselves. If you are accused of engaging in any behavior that violates the ethical rules in the AICPA Code, there is a big chance that your state licensing board will take disciplinary action against your professional license. Your license may be suspended or revoked entirely. Licensed architects are commonly investigated for the following types of violations:
- Fraudulent or dishonest accounting practices (e.g., filing fraudulent tax returns, inputting false numbers)
- Gross negligence (e.g., mishandling clients' personal financial information, mishandling finances)
- Criminal convictions (especially those of a financial nature, such as embezzlement or fraud)
- Acting in an unethical manner (e.g., failing to observe conflicts of interest, becoming financially entangled with clients, etc.)
If you're accused of these or any other acts of wrongdoing or negligence, we can get involved in the early stages of the investigation to provide evidence countering the complaints and/or work to minimize the penalties.
As an architect, you are entrusted with the responsibility of designing and overseeing the construction of buildings that will be safe and functional for the people who will use them. It's a big responsibility that requires you to act with integrity, competence, and fairness. If you violate these standards in any way, your state may take disciplinary action against your professional license. Common offenses that could jeopardize your architect's license include:
- Gross incompetence/negligence (e.g., violating building codes, mishandling projects, ignoring safety standards to cut costs)
- Fraudulent or dishonest practices (e.g., falsifying records, cheating on licensure exams)
- Reckless endangerment (e.g., designing a building that is structurally unsound)
- Criminal convictions (particularly crimes of moral turpitude or ethical violations)
- Substance abuse (addiction to alcohol or drugs can impair your judgment and render you untrustworthy)
If you are under investigation for any of these offenses, we can provide legal counsel and representation to help you avoid or minimize disciplinary action.
People rely on insurance agents to protect them from financial ruin in the event of an unexpected loss. As such, agents have a duty to act with honesty and integrity when recommending policies and dealing with clients. If you are accused of violating the standards of conduct set by your state insurance department, you could face disciplinary action against your license. Some common violations that may lead to disciplinary action include:
- Fraudulent or dishonest practices (e.g., processing false claims, unlawfully denying coverage or payments)
- Misrepresentation (e.g., providing incorrect information about what a policy covers)
- Gross negligence (e.g., failing to recommend policies that cover the client's needs, omitting important information from a policy)
- Acting in an unethical manner (e.g., misleading clients as to your level of expertise/authority, acting outside the scope of your license, violating client confidentiality)
- Convictions for certain types of crimes
If you are under investigation by your state insurance board for any of these or other offenses, it is important to seek legal counsel right away. An experienced lawyer can help you gather evidence in your defense and work to negotiate a favorable outcome.
As a professional engineer, the safety of the public is very much in your hands. You are responsible for the safety and integrity of all engineering projects you're involved with, and you must always act in accordance with your state's engineering code. If you violate these standards, your license may be suspended or revoked, or you could face other disciplinary action. Some common violations that may lead to such consequences include:
- Falsifying or fabricating data
- Incompetence or gross negligence (e.g., repeated code and/or safety violations)
- Working outside the scope of your license
- Substance abuse
- Criminal convictions (particularly DUI or crimes of moral turpitude)
If you are under investigation by the licensing board for these or other offenses, our firm has the experience needed to counter complaints effectively and to work for an outcome that may save your license and your career.
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents have a huge responsibility when it comes to handling other people's money. They are entrusted to deliver results that are both profitable for the client and adhere to all applicable real estate laws, including zoning ordinances, building codes, and land use regulations. If you violate these standards in any way, your state may take disciplinary action against your license. Common offenses that could lead to disciplinary action by the licensing board include:
- Bribery (e.g., accepting money or gifts to influence the outcome of a real estate transaction)
- Financial misconduct (e.g., improper bookkeeping or handling of money, inflating commissions, etc.)
- Fraudulent practices (e.g., misrepresenting how fees are calculated, failing to disclose material facts relevant to a deal)
- Criminal convictions (especially related to finance or fraud, or any felony offense)
If you find your real estate license under investigation for these or other possible offenses, we can help you by preparing a compelling response to the complaint and negotiating with the board for leniency, as applicable.
Social workers are dedicated to serving and supporting people in their communities, and as such, public trust is essential to their work. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has sent in place uniform standards of conduct for social workers, and state licensing boards help ensure these standards are enforced. If you're accused of violating the code of ethics established by your state's regulatory body for social work, you can face disciplinary action that could include license suspension or revocation. Common examples include:
- Unprofessional conduct/gross immorality (e.g., verbal or physical aggression toward a client, sexual misconduct, inappropriate relationships, etc.)
- Abuse of the social work relationship with a client for personal gain
- Incompetence (e.g., repeated violations of state guidelines regarding safe practice)
- Fraud (e.g., billing insurance fraudulently, financial misconduct)
- Substance abuse (alcohol/drug abuse can impair your judgment)
If you're currently facing board disciplinary action for any of these or other violations, our law firm can provide you with the aggressive representation you need to avoid serious consequences.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Like social workers, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must maintain a high level of trust from their communities. If you're accused of violating the standards set by your state for this profession, your license could be suspended or revoked. Common examples of violations include:
- Substance abuse (presents an obvious double standard)
- Sexual misconduct (toward clients, colleagues, etc.)
- Fraud (e.g., over-billing insurance)
- Dual relationships (i.e., having a secondary relationship with a client other than as counselor--for example, romantic or business partner)
If you're facing disciplinary proceedings for any of these or related offenses, our firm can help you by protecting your rights and negotiating with the board to reach the best possible outcome.
How We Can Help
Without having an attorney, the chances of having your license suspended or revoked over allegations of misconduct go up considerably. An attorney who is experienced with professional license defense has many options for helping you avoid this outcome. Here's how a good attorney can help you:
- Act as your official legal representative in all interactions with the licensing board
- Strategize with you to develop a compelling defense to the charges
- Coordinate your written response to the complaint against you
- Gather evidence and witnesses on your behalf
- Negotiate with the board at multiple points to have the complaint dismissed or to opt for lesser disciplinary actions
- Represent you in the formal hearing (many times your issue can be resolved without a hearing)
- Assist you with the process of reinstatement of your license (if it has already been suspended or revoked)
As a licensed service professional, your ability to work hinges on your license. Don't risk your career by facing allegations of misconduct on your own. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have extensive experience and can greatly increase your chances of keeping your license intact. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more.