The Risks of Representing Yourself When Facing a Disciplinary Proceeding

December 10, 2021
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Disciplinary spelled out with blocks

Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, or some other licensed professional, the consequences of the disciplinary process can have profound consequences for your future. Even if it doesn’t result in suspension or revocation of your license, it can do irreparable damage to your reputation. If you have received a complaint from your disciplinary board, you need someone on your side who can protect your interests and guide you through the process. Your best option is to work with a Maryland employment attorney with deep experience in representing licensed professionals

Losing Focus on the Disciplinary Process

Most professionals are extremely busy people. When facing a complaint, most find it extremely difficult to meet the demands of their daily practice and navigate the disciplinary process. This often results in an unconscious choice – focus on the needs of their clients or patients, or focus on the demands of the disciplinary board? While the answer may seem obvious, it can be extraordinarily difficult to choose the long-term consequences of the complaint over the immediate demands of their business.

Unfortunately, many professionals unintentionally find themselves up against important deadlines, resulting in the following: 

  • Missed deadlines
  • Inadequate or incomplete responses
  • Inadvertently making damaging admissions

Any one of these can do damage to your case, even if the underlying complaint is without merit as failing to cooperate with the disciplinary process can lead to further issues. A Maryland employment attorney can track the important deadlines, help you gather the evidence you need, and ensure your full cooperation so that you can focus on your practice while the complaint process plays itself out. 

Failing to Understand the Importance of Strategy

Disciplinary proceedings are often quasi-criminal proceedings. As such, it’s important to understand when admitting your mistake makes sense and when you should be more guarded in your responses. Disciplinary boards take complaints very seriously and are often more interested in guarding the reputation of the profession than the circumstances surrounding your case. The end result is that simply admitting to the allegations in the complaint does not necessarily mean that they will be lenient in deciding your punishment. 

A Maryland employment attorney can use their experience to help you formulate an effective strategy, depending on the likely outcome of your case. They can help you decide what you should admit and when so that you are in the best possible position for a fair outcome. 

Accepting an Unfair Settlement

At some point in the disciplinary process, the Board may offer you the opportunity to settle the complaint and avoid a hearing. This can be attractive for many reasons, but it’s important to understand that it typically involves admitting some degree of fault. As a result, you are likely to face a punishment of some sort, and your admission will likely be public record. 

Unfortunately, many licensed professionals accept settlement offers that carry consequences that are harsher than they may have otherwise faced. A Maryland employment attorney can help you negotiate better terms or decide whether it is better for you to proceed to a hearing. 

Being Unprepared for the Hearing

Probably the largest risk in representing yourself arises at the hearing. Most professionals have no idea what to expect at the hearing and as a result find themselves woefully unprepared. While the hearing is somewhat informal, the Board will review the evidence and hear testimony from witnesses. The Board will likely be receiving advice from an attorney if there isn’t an attorney actually involved in the hearing. 

It is a mistake to assume that the hearing will simply be a conversation between you and the Board. You need to know what kind of evidence to introduce and what testimony the Board will find compelling. You will need to know how to cross-examine the witnesses testifying against you and how to discuss the evidence that the Board has. You will not be able to simply persuade them to be lenient or find the complaint to be without merit. 

Preparing for the hearing is very similar to preparing for a trial. A Maryland employment lawyer can help you prepare your statement, identify whether other witnesses will be needed, and know what evidence you will need to present. 

Maryland Employment Attorney J.W. Stafford – Representing Licensed Professionals in Disciplinary Proceedings

Don’t risk your livelihood by thinking you can represent yourself. Protect the value of your license and invest in your future by working with a Maryland employment attorney who knows how to successfully navigate the disciplinary process. To discuss your case and how we can help, contact us today at 410-514-6099.