As professional license defense attorneys, we try to negotiate a settlement offer for our clients in every case. The more options we can provide to our clients, the better, and some clients want to avoid the cost and uncertainty of hearing no matter what. Sometimes the agency digs in against the client and refuses to settle, but more often than not, we are able to convince the agency to offer settlement terms. But what if the licensee doesn’t like the terms they’re being offered? What if the terms involve a disciplinary record that will stick with the client for life? What if the terms would preclude the client from working at their current job?
We often speak to licensed professionals who are on some form of board or agency probation, and they are unhappy with the terms and conditions. Sometimes they were told that the settlement offer they received was “the best they could do,” and it would be a waste of time to go to hearing. In fact, the government attorney will tell us that our clients should settle, and that we won’t do any better at an administrative proceeding. Every case is different, but just because an agency attorney tells you that you won’t do better in court, it doesn’t mean they’re right. The Board of Registered Nursing offered two of our clients probation just this year. Neither client accepted, both went to hearing, and both had their Accusations dismissed by the ALJ and then those dismissals were accepted by the Board. The Department of Social Services wanted to shut down two licensed day care facilities this year. The Department refused to entertain settlement, instead demanding license revocation. However, one, our client, was placed on probation after hearing, and the other client’s matter was dismissed entirely. The Medical Board of California wanted to place our client’s license on probation, but after fighting for our client at hearing, our physician earned a public reproval instead, preserving the physician’s career as a well-earning, respected practitioner.
In all of these cases, a board or agency counsel insisted to the licensee that only one result was possible. The truth is, with quality representation and a good case, we can achieve great results, sometimes even better than the best that the board is willing to offer. In some of our cases, we recommend settlement, and it’s only through our intervention that the board is even willing to offer a settlement. The only way to know for sure is to consult with an attorney who regularly appears at administrative hearings at the Office of Administrative Hearings. Don’t be pressured into giving up a license or into taking a settlement offer without first talking to an experienced professional license defense attorney.