Your professional license is more than just a hard-earned piece of paper. It is your ticket to a livelihood and life spent in the service of others. It's your future, your family's future.
The loss of a professional license—even the possibility of a loss—can be catastrophic for your professional reputation and for your future earnings. So any hint of a threat to your medical, nursing, or trade license needs to be addressed before any formal inquiries start.
You may have a disgruntled client who is upset over a bill, starting rumblings of professional malfeasance. Your billing agency or staff may have been making administrative mistakes without your knowledge that draw the attention of insurance companies, who will then make noise that gives your oversight board some pause.
Or maybe you're in more serious trouble, headed to rehab or arrested for DWI or DUI, and know a conviction will doom your professional license and, ultimately, your career.
Why You Need an Expert Advisor
An experienced occupational license lawyer will provide you many benefits in such a time of stress. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help you prepare fully for any anticipated appearances before your board, rehearsing with you and advising you on what exactly to say should hearings come about.
There are so many problems that can land a professional in front of a licensing board. Almost all—at least in theory—are preventable, but when they happen, it's essential to have experienced legal support like the Lento Law Firm to navigate you through the process.
Everything you do professionally is on the line. If your license is revoked, you'll be prohibited from doing what you have been called to do. All of the clients and patients you have been supporting and helping will be left behind.
How the Licensing Hearing Process Works
If there are issues with clients, substance abuse, insurance claims, or other administrative issues you fear may become a real problem, it's essential to retain counsel immediately to defend your interests. The process moves extremely quickly, and the Lento Law Firm works at our very best when we get started as soon as is practical.
To do this, we'll need your full attention and commitment—your assiduous involvement is absolutely essential to your successful defense against charges that can threaten the lifeblood of your career.
Preparation is key. The disciplinary process before a board is much like a civil or criminal trial. You'll need to marshal every relevant fact and all available evidence to fight against every aspect of the allegations against you.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento will pull together a well-considered, comprehensive game plan with specific ties to what is being alleged against your professional integrity and bearing in mind every potential ramification.
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.
In broad strokes, if the case against you involves untrue facts or is unsupportable, our defense strategy will be a full-throated attack on the deficient merits of the allegations.
If there is any truth in the charges, in hindsight, you may become aware of your mistakes and will acknowledge them in confidence to us. In that case, our strategic focus will lean towards mitigating the charges by providing demonstrable evidence to explain to the board what happened and, to the greatest extent possible, find ways to offset the results of any real missteps you may have made.
Because only extreme circumstances will curtail your practice while an administrative matter is pending, we'll endeavor to keep you working as you were before, subject to any employment contract provisions the impending charges might invoke.
This right, however, doesn't mean carrying on completely as usual. You'll really need to figure out how the problem came along in the first place and determine how to make adjustments to avoid a recurrence, and give us an opportunity to champion your ability to change for the better—great leverage for extracting a compromise.
Why Do You Need a Professional License Defense Attorney?
Administrative law—the section that addresses the regulation and administration of government agencies—also presides over professional licensing, including state regulatory boards.
Such boards hold a tremendous amount of power over the professionals they oversee. When it comes to professional licensing, they determine approvals, conduct oversight and investigations in complaints, and act as disciplinary bodies for license holders who they find to have violated rules of licensure.
A skilled professional license defense attorney has extensive knowledge of how these regulatory boards operate in your state and can be an incredibly valuable asset to helping save your license from being threatened.
A professional license defense attorney can:
- Act as your formal legal representation standing in front of the regulatory board in investigations, hearings, and appeals—every single stage of the complaint.
- Be your experienced counsel in the case against you, guide you on how it could impact your future work life, and proscribe the steps you can take to defend against it.
- Pull together evidence and find witnesses that buttress your defense against the complaint.
- Work with the licensing board, advocating for dismissal of the complaint or lesser penalties.
- Argue for the best possible terms should you be inclined to enter into a Consent Decree—an agreement for an action plan in cooperation with the board in return for keeping your license intact.
- Handle the administrative details in seeking reinstatement of your license (should it have been suspended or revoked). Your lawyer will file documents, assist with the payment of fees, and follow up with the board regarding your license status.
Whom We Can Help
The Lento Law Firm supports a range of professionals when their licenses are in jeopardy for alleged wrongdoing or other licensing matters. We have represented:
- Physicians across disciplines
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Dentists/dental surgeons
- Pharmacists/pharmacy technicians
- Paramedics and other first responders
- Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs)
- Accountants and licensed investment professionals
- Real Estate Agents and brokers
How We Can Defend Against Allegations
The Lento Law Firm can serve as professional license defense against a broad range of allegations that range from minor to serious, including:
- Professional misconduct—allegations of behavior that violate the occupational rules and ethics associated with a given profession.
- Sexual misconduct—accusations of sexual harassment or relationships that are inappropriate.
- Alleged incompetence—these can be faulty record-keeping, mishandling patient/client information, or major occupational mishaps with the potential for harm.
- Fraud—you may have allegedly overbilled customers/patients or attempted to defraud insurance companies.
- Substance abuse or addiction—alleged substance abuse may lead many regulatory agencies to revoke a professional license, especially if you appeared to be impaired on the job).
- Criminal convictions—if you are convicted of a crime, depending on your occupation, your license could be in jeopardy.
In the case of professional disciplinary actions, there is a range of outcomes. In every event, getting prepared at the first sign of trouble is the most reliable way to ward off what could be a professional disaster.
No action. Obviously, this is the best possible result. Your defense will convince the licensing board that you've done nothing to warrant disciplinary measures, not violated any rules, regulations, or laws, that the evidence is insufficient to warrant any punitive actions against your professional license. This is the administrative equivalent of a criminal trial acquittal.
Warning or reprimand. This is a sanction, although the least serious form. Even if it seems like a small price to pay, it can have consequences for your practice, staying on your permanent record. It will also complicate things should you find yourself in the middle of a disciplinary proceeding down the road. Although it's preferable to more serious consequences (see below), it is still a mixed outcome.
License suspension. This can feel like a severe blow, and it is—boards take the prospect of suspension very seriously and typically only impose these terms on professionals who have committed severe forms of malpractice. Your practice will be put on hold for a specified term.
This is where a lawyer with specific experience in professional license defense can be essential. Joseph D. Lento has a track record in negotiating better terms in these cases and getting shorter probationary periods whenever possible.
License revocation. This is the most severe administrative penalty, arising from errors that fall far below an acceptable standard of care, representation, or service. Criminal convictions can follow, especially when felonies are involved.
While appealing a reprimand sanction or license suspension is not always the best or automatic response, this disciplinary action will usually terminate your right to practice. When final, this is a death knell for a hard-won career and puts you at a crossroads. Do you give up the fight or keep trying to save your professional reputation and ability to earn a living?
Consent decree or settlement. While we understand the powerful urge for a day in court to clear your professional name and have a voice in the battle against allegations that you did something wrong, the alternative of a consensual resolution can often be the best strategy.
Striking a deal gives you a chance to control risk, even if it feels hard to accept any agreement that imposes a measure of penalty. Among the benefits of hiring Joseph Lento is his commitment to providing a very candid assessment of your risk and his ability to mitigate the most serious outcomes. With his legal skill behind you, you will be able to make an informed decision about any potential compromises that could keep your career on track.
Of course, it's better to avoid any kind of disciplinary scrutiny in the first place.
The more efficient your operation, the more proficient you and your staff are in paying attention to detail and the well-being of your patients/clients, both physically and emotionally, the fewer problems you will have and the more prepared you will be for those that crop up.
The Lento Law Firm has seen countless professional license reviews, and we have developed a strong sense of the potential administrative pitfalls and ways to prevent them.
Make sure your office systems are up to date and airtight. Are you using the most up-to-date technologies to ensure client/patient confidentiality, compliance with applicable regulations, and immaculate record-keeping? Confidentiality must be jealously guarded.
Setting a periodic review and having staff who are dedicated to maintaining flawless systems is a key means to getting out in front of issues that could lead to possible complaints. It also means that you can provide concrete evidence that you and your practice have done nothing wrong.
Build a healthy office culture. Don't turn a blind eye to issues your staff brings to you, particularly where it involves patients and clients. Your role as a leader in your practice is to be accessible, listen carefully, and respond to feedback in a constructive and positive way. Make sure your staff feels comfortable bringing up things that can turn into problems.
Keep communication with patients/clients open. It's equally important that the people who pay for your services feel comfortable raising issues with you. Make sure you have concrete systems in place for you to be accessible and responsive when they bring something to your attention.
Do you acknowledge in a formal way to your clients or patients when you have not gotten something exactly right or even made a mistake? In other words, do you have an established and genuine routine of building trusted relationships?
These feedback review systems should go beyond the individual issues to address patterns that, if left unchecked, could be problematic and the subject of regulatory scrutiny. Follow-up procedures after clients or patients leave your care or representation are also best practices to avoid problems down the road.
Don't Gamble with Your Career
If you've earned a professional license, you have put in a tremendous amount of work. Just meeting bar for a professional license can be difficult in and of itself. Your whole livelihood hinges on that accreditation.
Stop a misunderstanding or lapse in judgment from putting that future at risk. Joseph Lento has helped countless clients preserve their professional licenses from being suspended and/or revoked. He comprehends the inner workings of major regulatory boards in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, and has the skill to advocate the best possible outcome for you and for your vocation.
If your license is in jeopardy, time is of the essence. Get back your life and your career today. Call the Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to discuss your case and find out what options are available to you.