Louisiana has some of the most comprehensive professional licensing requirements in the country. More than one in five jobs in Louisiana requires some form of professional license or certification. Licenses are issued by a wide range of state boards, commissions, examiners, and offices for more than 65 different professions, with each license having its own particular set of education, practical experience, examination, and disciplinary requirements.
Almost every professional license requires the applicant to have devoted a significant amount of time to studying, whether to meet the license's general education requirements or to learn specific things necessary to be able to perform the licensed work. In addition, many licenses require a certain amount of practical work experience that can take months or years to finish. Finally, license applicants may have to pass a test before they can earn their license. All of this means that just to get to the point where you have earned a professional license, you need to invest a significant amount of time, money, and effort. And in many professions, once you have your license, you need to comply with continuing education requirements if you want to keep it.
This is why it's so important for you to take it seriously if a professional complaint is filed against you with your Louisiana licensing agency. If you don't properly defend yourself, you can end up with a suspended or revoked license, which means you'll be unable to practice the profession you've spent so much time and effort on. The best time to begin defending against a professional complaint is as soon as possible after you are notified that someone has filed one against you. If you wait, you could lose access to valuable documents or witnesses who could help you, and the disciplinary process may move past the stage where it can be easily resolved.
Another important issue is whether to contact an experienced professional license attorney-advisor to help you through this process. Consider this – just as you have worked hard to learn and gain experience in your professional field, a professional license attorney-advisor has done the same in their field. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have that experience and can help you navigate the sometimes confusing and perilous aspects of the professional license disciplinary process in Louisiana.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense in Louisiana
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have advised professional license holders all over the country who find themselves facing disciplinary complaints, investigations, hearings, and appeals. They understand the different disciplinary requirements for each of the licensed professions and the processes that the licensing boards use to decide whether and how to discipline license holders after a complaint has been filed.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you prepare your defense, including, where necessary conducting their own investigation into the complaint on your behalf. They can help prepare written responses to the charges filed against you by your licensing body, negotiate with the licensing body in cases where doing so may be helpful, advise you if your licensing body offers to resolve matters with a consent agreement, and represent you and help you protect your rights in any disciplinary hearing or appeal.
While each type of license has a different set of requirements that apply before the license will issue, many licenses share common standards when it comes to discipline. They also tend to follow very similar procedures relating to the investigation of complaints, attempts to resolve matters through consent agreements, hearing procedures and protocols, and appeals. The Lento Law Firm License Defense Team has years of experience with a wide range of professional license disciplinary matters, and they will bring all of that experience when they become your attorney-advisors for your proceeding.
While, of course, each different type of license has its own particular requirements and disciplinary standards, there are certain types of behavior that come up over and over in professional license disciplinary proceedings. Healthcare workers may be charged with poor record-keeping, mishandling prescription medication, abusing patients, or improper billing practices. Many different professionals regularly face disciplinary proceedings based on sexual harassment or assault allegations or on allegations that the professional was working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A professional whose negligence injures or endangers others may also be disciplined, as may a professional who has committed a serious crime (even if the crime isn't directly related to the professional's job).
The time to reach out for help from an experienced professional license attorney-advisor is as soon as you receive a notice that someone has filed a professional complaint against you. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team are ready and able to help as soon as you contact them. They know from experience that sooner is better when it comes to preparing an effective defense to professional disciplinary charges and helping you protect your license. They'll be with you through every step of the process, helping and advising you and making sure that your rights are protected in a professional and aggressive way.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in Louisiana
Many disciplinary proceedings in Louisiana involve licensed health care professionals simply because there are so many of them. As of 2021, there were more than 65,000 Registered Nurses, more than 8,000 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and more than 20,000 Licensed Practical Nurses in the state. In addition, there were more than 12,000 active physicians working in Louisiana. Following close behind are teachers, with more than 50,000 working in Louisiana in 2021-22. There are tens of thousands of other professionals spread across dozens of different licensed professions in the state. Each profession has its own standards for disciplining its members, but many of them share similar procedures that, as a license holder, you might encounter if you are notified that a formal complaint has been filed against you.
Most disciplinary proceedings begin with a written complaint, typically filed by a patient, client, customer, co-worker, or employer of the licensed professional. At times, the complaint may come from the licensing agency itself if it is notified by a court clerk that a licensed professional has been convicted of a particular type of crime.
The licensing agency will usually take an initial look at the complaint to make sure it provides all of the information the agency requires and to confirm that it is complaining about the kind of behavior that the agency regulates. A complaint that a doctor kept a patient waiting past their appointment time or that a nurse was rude to a patient, for example, is unlikely to result in further disciplinary proceedings, provided the patient was not in danger as a result.
If a complaint meets the licensing body's standards, then it's likely to move forward to the investigation process. This is usually the point at which the license holder will be notified that a complaint has been filed against them. This is also the point at which it is a very good idea to reach out to a skilled professional license defense attorney-advisor. It's the stage at which Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you understand what is happening and can begin to help you prepare to defend your license. They can also act as your representative in any communications with the licensing body or its investigator. With the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team at your side, you'll sleep better knowing that you have the help of an experienced team of professionals who have been through these kinds of situations before.
The licensing body's investigator is likely to want to interview you; to review documents you may have that relate to the issues in the complaint; to perhaps meet with and interview workplace associates, and review workplace records (which may be subpoenaed as part of the process); and sometimes even to visit you at home or at your job. All of this can be very stressful to have to deal with over the weeks or months that disciplinary investigations typically last.
If you are working with an experienced professional license defense attorney-advisor, much of the stress can often be avoided because your attorney-advisor can represent you in many of the communications with the investigator. At the same time, it may be helpful for you to conduct your own investigation, to help identify documents and witnesses who might help you defend yourself. Professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understand how to interact with investigators and how to conduct investigations on behalf of license holders. By helping you gather information in your own defense, they help prepare you for the next stages of the typical disciplinary proceeding.
When an investigation finishes, the licensing body has a decision to make. If the investigator hasn't turned up evidence that supports the charges in the complaint, the licensing body may dismiss the matter entirely. If, however, there is evidence to support the complaint, the licensing agency will typically draft a formal set of charges based on the information in the complaint and the information collected by the investigator. It will then notify you of what the charges are. Depending on the situation, you may then have a chance to respond to the formal charges in writing.
Another possibility is that the licensing agency may offer you a consent agreement or some similar type of resolution that is similar to a settlement. They will propose that you agree to a certain set of facts and that you accept a consequence or penalty of some type that they will propose. The goal of a consent agreement is to save the licensing agency time and resources while still delivering the kind of discipline that the public expects.
There may or may not be an in-person meeting that goes along with the consent agreement proposal. Whether there is or not, it can be enormously helpful at this stage to be working with a professional license attorney-advisor who can review the consent agreement, the support for the formal charges, and any evidence that has been gathered on your own behalf. Your attorney-advisor can give you some idea, based on their experience, whether the proposed consent agreement makes sense in your case. In addition, your attorney-advisor can, in some cases, meet with a representative of the licensing body and, where there is strong evidence in your favor, may be able to negotiate the terms of the consent agreement so that they are more favorable than what the agency originally proposed.
This is why reaching out to attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team as soon as you are notified that a complaint has been filed is so important. A strong defense takes time to develop, and the more time the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has to help prepare your defense, the better it will be for you.
The next step in the typical disciplinary proceeding – assuming that there is no consent agreement reached – is usually a formal hearing, though some licensing bodies may proceed only on paper submissions.
Assuming there is a hearing, you will receive a notice of the day, time, and place, and there may be an exchange of information in advance. You may receive copies of any written evidence that the licensing body intends to use to prove its case against you, along with a list of any live witnesses they intend to have testify. You may also need to provide the agency with copies of the documents you intend to use, as well as the names and general testimony topics of any witnesses of your own.
At the live hearing, you or your attorney will typically be able to cross-examine witnesses that the licensing agency puts on the stand. You may also have an opportunity to argue against the introduction of written evidence if there are reasons to support those arguments. If you are putting on your own witnesses, the licensing agency will be able to cross-examine them, and the agency will be able to object, where appropriate, to the documentary evidence you introduce.
While a live hearing is probably a situation that is very new to you, it's by no means new to professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team. This is what they do, day in and day out, and have done for years. They understand what kinds of arguments work in live hearing situations; they know how to present and cross-examine witnesses to get at the truth of the testimony; and they know how to deal with the kinds of surprises that sometimes happen during live hearings. All of this is why it is important to have an experienced attorney-advisor by your side in any hearing situation and why if your professional license is at risk, you should contact Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team as soon as you are aware of a complaint being filed against you.
Decision and Appeal
Depending on the situation, you may receive an immediate decision from the hearing tribunal, or it may take some days or weeks before it issues one. In some cases, the tribunal will also decide on a sanction if the decision is against you; in others, that sanction decision may be made by someone else working with the licensing agency.
If the decision goes against you, you will typically have an opportunity to appeal it. Most appeals are limited in scope, however, to procedural errors or to new facts that were not and could not have been known at the time of the hearing. Strong appeals are based on strong defenses, however, so it helps tremendously if you have been represented by an experienced professional license attorney advisor during your hearing. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help with an appeal in those situations where one is appropriate.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help You Protect Your License
The experience of having a formal complaint filed against you, of being under investigation by the agency that issued your license, of having to consider possible consent agreements or to participate in a live hearing, all directed at you and your professional license is an experience that can be profoundly upsetting. It's not something that you were trained to do.
These situations are, however, what attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team are trained to do. They've spent years representing professional license holders all over the United States, and they know what it takes to get the best result for their clients. They are able to help you at every stage of these difficult proceedings, including:
- Reviewing the complaint and helping you understand what it's alleging you did and what it could mean to your license;
- Acting as your representative in communications with the investigator and with the licensing agency;
- Conducting an investigation on your behalf to identify and collect helpful documents and witnesses;
- Helping you evaluate any consent agreement offers and, where possible, negotiating on your behalf with the licensing body for better terms;
- Representing you at any hearing that is held and making arguments on your behalf;
- Providing advice and assistance with any appeal.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in Louisiana
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team helps licensed professionals located all over Louisiana. There are several geographic areas that have a large concentration of professional license holders, typically working in the healthcare field. Wherever you may be located, if your professional license is at risk because of a disciplinary proceeding, you can contact attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team, and they will be ready to help. Whether your license is for medicine, engineering, teaching, occupational therapy, or any other licensed profession, having the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team on your team can make a real difference in the result of the disciplinary proceeding brought against you.
Some of the metro areas where the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team helps in Louisiana include the following:
More than 1.2 million people live in the New Orleans metropolitan area, including Kenner, Slidell, and Metairie. The New Orleans metro area is home to a number of hospitals, including Ochsner Medical Center (various campuses), Tulane Medical Center, University Medical Center, St. Charles Surgical Hospital, and East Jefferson General Hospital.
The Baton Rouge metro area is home to more than 850,000 residents, including the towns of Baker, Gonzales, and Zachary. Prominent hospitals in the Baton Rouge area include Baton Rouge General (Bluebonnet and Mid City locations), Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and Woman's Hospital.
More than 470,000 people live in the Lafayette metropolitan area, which covers the five parishes of Lafayette, Saint Martin, Acadia, Iberia, and Vermillion. It is home to a number of hospitals, including Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center, Ochsner University Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, and Our Lady of Lourdes Women's and Children's Hospital.
The Shreveport metropolitan area has almost 400,000 residents and includes the cities of Bossier City and Mansfield. Hospitals in the Shreveport metro area include CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center, Ochsner LSU Health (St. Mary and Academic locations), and Willis-Knighton Medical Center.
Types of Offenses and Allegations That May Jeopardize Your Professional License
There are a number of areas of misconduct that tend to appear over and over again, no matter what the license. Others are more particular to a certain type of license. Some of these areas are as follows:
- Fraud. Fraud allegations can relate to a number of actions, including the mishandling of client or customer funds, overbilling for work not performed, false coding of medical procedures to secure larger insurance payments and other types of deceptive practices.
- Sexual harassment or abuse. These charges can result from workplace harassment based on gender but can also include instances of non-consensual sexual contact. Sometimes they arise when a professional has an inappropriate relationship with a patient or client that includes consensual sexual contact.
- Substance abuse. A professional who works while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be disciplined for substance abuse. In many cases, one goal of the disciplinary process in these situations is to encourage the professional to enter treatment for a substance abuse problem.
- Record-keeping problems. This happens when a professional fails to keep proper records of treatments or services provided to patients or clients, particularly where the patient or client is put at risk as a result.
- Physical or mental abuse. These charges may result when a patient or client is injured while in the care of a professional or when the professional speaks in an abusive or manipulative manner to the patient or client.
- Criminal convictions. Most professional licenses require license holders to inform the licensing agency of any serious criminal convictions. Depending on the conviction, the person's license may be in jeopardy, and a failure to notify the licensing agency of a conviction can be a separate offense.
- Negligence. When professional negligence reaches the level of harming or potentially harming others, the professional may be disciplined as a result.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in Louisiana
Finding yourself the subject of a professional license complaint can be one of the most stressful experiences that any license holder can go through. Having to worry about losing your license while at the same time having to show up and do your job while the process plays itself out can be extremely difficult to do. This is why you need the help of professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team.
They can help you understand the charges against you and what they might mean to your license. More importantly, they have the experience and understanding to help you defend yourself against the charges, and they can carry some of that daily burden for you while you continue to focus on doing your job the best way you know how.
No matter what your license area is, Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you if your license is at risk due to a disciplinary proceeding. Some of the professional license where they have helped include the following:
- Physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners
- CPAs and Accountants
- Real Estate brokers and agents
- Psychologists, Counselors, and other mental health professionals
- Massage therapists
- Other licensed professionals
Don't make the mistake of trying to defend yourself when your professional license is on the line; you need the help of someone who has done that before and knows what it takes to achieve the best result. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have that experience. Call them today at 888.535.3686, or use the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team online form to set up a confidential consultation. They are ready to listen and to help.