If for whatever reason your license discipline or license denial hearing has snuck up on you and is right around the corner, don’t throw in the towel or go it alone. Even with just a few days to prepare, an experienced license defense attorney can make a night-and-day difference in the outcome of an administrative hearing. Here are some considerations in getting even last minute help for a license discipline hearing on an accusation or a license denial hearing due to a statement of issues.
The first consideration is whether you can continue (postpone) the hearing before hiring an attorney, or just continue it without an attorney’s help to buy more time. As a hearing date draws very near, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is often much less likely to postpone a hearing. If you ask to continue (postpone) the hearing and wait for an answer from OAH, you might not get the answer until a day or two before hearing! And that answer is often “no.” OAH disfavors postponing hearings at the last minute, since it really disrupts their schedule. It’s just like canceling an appointment at the last minute. An attorney has a better chance of persuading the Presiding Administrative Law Judge to grant a continuance, but in any event, the case should be prepared for hearing as if it will go forward.
A second consideration in favor of hiring a lawyer, even at the last minute, is the lack of good options after the hearing is done. The three options after losing a hearing (suffering license revocation or an outright denial) are reconsideration, appeal by writ petition, and reapplication or reinstatement. Reconsideration is asking the agency that just took away your license or denied it to rethink that decision. Some pretty powerful evidence or arguments are needed to get reconsideration granted. Reconsideration often doesn’t work. An appeal by writ, which happens in Superior Court, costs a lot more money usually than having a lawyer at the administrative hearing, and the odds of winning are usually a lot worse. Reapplication or reinstatement can take years, and is made harder by the history of a lost hearing in a someone’s background.
A third consideration is the cost of not getting a lawyer. Although a lawyer can be expensive, years of lost wages can be 100 times the cost of a lawyer’s fees. A license discipline or denial hearing is one of those rare life events, like a serious illness, death, divorce or birth of a child, that unfortunately imposes a financial burden.
Even if the hearing is almost here, and the chances don’t look good at all, a fourth consideration is taking the long view. A license discipline or denial hearing is a public record that can damage a licensee or license applicant’s reputation, particularly in our Internet age. Most people who lose a license hearing will later come back for the license again, and at that time must live with the damage wrought by the prior license hearing. Even in defeat, an experienced license attorney’s legal skill at hearing can soften the decision and set a much more positive stage for a later career comeback.
We have the resources to rise to your defense even as your hearing date approaches. Please don’t wait until the last minute, but, if you do, don’t give up. Give us a call and let us make a positive difference.