Many professionals may think that the agency that licenses them is on their side. They are so wrong. The primary goal of a California license agency is public protection. Whether the Medical Board, Department of Insurance or the Chiropractic Board, these agencies impose more regulations and seek to strictly enforce discipline against their licensees.
The equalizers in this process, who counterbalance the awesome power of the Boards, Bureaus and Departments, are the administrative law judges, the Superior Court, and most importantly, the attorneys who appear before them. The rules are relatively simple. Each licensee is constitutionally entitled to due process, meaning simply notice and an opportunity to be heard. The agency cannot punish, but instead only protect the public. The agency must follow its own rules and treat everyone fairly. Violations of these rules will lead to successful appeals before the Superior Court and higher courts.
In a recent case, we succeeded in getting an order of license revocation overturned. The licensee had gone to a hearing without an attorney (regrettable, and unfortunately common these days). The hearing had, of course, gone badly, and his license was revoked. Luckily for the licenseholder, the Department of Insurance violated the rules of due process, and, even more fortunately, he came to me while we could do something about it. After eight months of fighting in court with the Department, the decision was overturned and the license was restored.
Most law is based upon relatively simple rules which anyone can grasp. The lawyer’s job – and what all lawyers must demonstrate to pass the bar – is applying the law to the facts of a specific case to make effective legal arguments. The more experience the lawyer has in a specific area of law, the more insightful the lawyer becomes at applying facts to the law.
It is fortunate that even with the awesome power the licensing agencies have over their licensees, with encouragement from an attorney many judges and courts will stand up to the agencies.