Many people find the prospect of challenging an administrative agency’s decision with an attorney quite cost prohibitive.  Some are at the end of their career and do not see any professional or personal risk in surrendering their license, or perhaps they plan in working in a different profession and never intend to be licensed in any jurisdiction again and are comfortable with proceeding with the risks on their own.  Others may never make enough money in their licensed profession to be able to pay legal fees.

 

In which case, you may find yourself deciding to go at it alone and you are left to consider what might be important without much of a road map.

 

There are varying degrees of resources online, as a starting point, assuming you have timely and properly requested a hearing.  By way of example:

Office of Administrative Hearings [“OAH”] was created to hold hearings on disputes that arise between individuals and state agencies.  We focus is on licensure matters, which can include the Department of Financial Institutes, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Residential Care Services, and findings of abuse or neglect by DSHS’ Adult Protective Services or Child Protective Services [“CPS”] in the context of OAH.  

The OAH website offers some general context about what you can expect, including about the administrative hearing process, how to prepare for hearing and prehearing conference, submitting documents, and attending the hearing itself: http://oah.wa.gov/Home/Index/3422  However, this will not prepare you to deal with the specific ALJ assigned to preside over your hearing or working against (or with, for the purposes of settlement short of a hearing) the Department’s attorney or representative.  Often it is difficult for pro se appellants/respondents to keep the emotion out of the process in a manner that protects her/him and keeps it efficient, though understandably so.  

The OAH will appoint an Administrative Law Judge [an “ALJ”] to preside over your matter, and the ALJ may require more specifics than what is outlined on the OAH website such as issuing orders that will have various types of prehearing deadlines that you must be careful to meet.  Though the OAH provides links to legal research and resources, it is apparent that there is a lot to review and only some of which may be relevant to your particular Department, legal issues, or facts: http://oah.wa.gov/Home/Index/3408  Without the legal experience pro se appellants/respondents can feel quite overwhelmed in identifying what is relevant or even useful for hearing.  

There are resources if you choose to undertake the risk yourself but be prepared to pay attention to several details during a very stressful period in your life.  You can always consider whether you might consult with potential counsel on a limited scope or reach out to potential counsel when you are too overwhelmed to see if it may be helpful to bring them onboard (do not wait too long!!).  

 

Regardless, you should always consider whether you have insurance that will potentially cover your legal fees, and your cost-benefit analysis may be in favor of retaining counsel as soon as possible.  

 

Also, see our page about the Administrative Hearing Process, and our blog posting from December 8, 2016 entitled, “Don’t face an administrative hearing alone.”

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