Its more than a simple customer compliant. Those who work under a professional license know that formal complaints means that one’s ability to sustain their livelihood may be at risk. It is the decisions and actions in the moments and hours after a complaint has been communicated that can determine whether a professional will be able to continue in their career.
Tip #1 – Call a Lawyer
A complaint that could jeopardize your license is not a time to try to save a buck or cut corners. Lawyers who deal in Professional Licensure know the layout of the land. They can walk you through the process. They will help you get your thoughts in order. They will help you form your position and draft a response for you. Most importantly, a good attorney will ensure that you are following rules and meeting deadlines. An Attorney will make sure that you are not being taken advantage of or railroaded.
Tip #2 – Start Gathering Evidence/Paperwork and Putting Thoughts to Paper
Once you have engaged an attorney to take on your case, you will need to start collecting your thoughts as well as any paperwork that will support or help your position. Take a few moments to sit down with pen and paper or in front of the computer. Put down your side of the story in written form. Anything you can remember about the events that are in question, even if it doesn’t seem material, may be helpful in the future. Take all the evidence that you have along with your written account of the allegations with you when you meet with your attorney in person for the first time.
Tip #3 – Meeting with your Attorney
Your Attorney is bound by Attorney – Client privilege. This means the attorney cannot share the information you discussed with them. Your Attorney needs to fully understand your side of the story; this includes your account of what happened, your thought process and your motivation. Consulting with your attorney is not the time to omit details you are unsure of or embarrassed about. You will put your attorney as well as yourself at a real disadvantage if you do not give them the full story… even if the full story is less than flattering to you.
Tip #4 – Listen to your Attorney
A complaint being filed against you is a highly emotionally thing. It makes one feel out of control and fearful. Do no attempt to “retake control” of the situation by going rouge. The most important thing you can do to help yourself in this situation is to listen to your attorney. I repeat, listen to your attorney. Let your attorney do the talking, send the emails and take the lead on any other communication that needs to occur with anyone on the matter. Do not call up your employer or coworkers to discuss the situation. Do not send emails to express your intentions or “your side” of things to the board or your employer. Do not talk to anyone about the situation without first consulting and then receiving the blessing of your attorney to do so. While you may believe you are “fighting back” or helping yourself, chances are you are making things much worse than they need to be.
Tip #5 – Do Not Write the Response Yourself
Sometimes after meeting with any attorney to consult on a complaint an individual may feel like they have gathered enough information to write their own response to the charges. Fight the urge to do this. Understand that a 30 minute consultation with a legal professional does not make you “an attorney.” Non-Attorneys are not able to tackle a complex legal matter. An attorney will know how to respond in a way that answers only the charge at hand without complicating the situation further with peripheral information. They can perform this task free of emotion which would prove to be difficult for the subject of the complaint to do. An attorney will also write the response in a manner that uses exact wording and phrases that speak clearly to the situation. Lastly, attorneys who deal with professional licensure matters know the process. They are keenly aware of what should be in a response and what should be left out. Attorneys know that to win the war means to pick the battles carefully. A qualified attorney will be able to effectively evaluate all the information that you presented to them. They will know what parts of it to present and when. Perhaps it is not to your advantage to send over pages and pages of response when, based on the charge, the attorney knows a couple of paragraphs will do. Extra information that does not specifically answer a charge can in many instances hurt your cause.
Let’s face it. Dealing with a formal complaint can be agony. The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a good attorney, gather up as much information as you can and then keep quiet. Let the professionals take it from here. If you have had a compliant leveled against you and your professional license is at risk, give us a call at 505.848.8581 or contact us. We are experts in all matters pertaining to professional licensure and we can help you- today!