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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

What You Need To Know About Administrative Hearings

Your professional license is the key to your entire career. Without it, you stand to lose your business, your financial security and your reputation.

This means that when your professional license is on the line in a Washington state agency hearing, it's critical to know what to expect and how to best defend your licensure.

The exact procedures will differ slightly, depending on whether you are dealing with the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), the Department of Employment Security (DES) or another agency. However, here are some generally applicable points to understand:

An administrative hearing allows you to appeal an agency decision. According to Office of Administrative Hearings, both you and the agency will have a chance to present evidence to an impartial judge. Both sides may question witnesses or challenge the evidence presented. At the end, the judge will decide whether to uphold, change or set aside the agency's original decision.

The hearing may take place in person or over the phone. You will receive a notice specifying when and where the hearing will occur. In some cases, you may also be required to attend a prehearing conference over the phone.

You are not required to have a lawyer, but it's usually wise. Technically, you could choose a paralegal or another lay advocate to represent you at the hearing. However, an attorney will have a much better command of the law and more experience presenting evidentiary exhibits and subpoenaing witnesses.

The hearing may be lengthy or very brief. The amount of time the hearing takes will depend on the particular issues you discuss and how many witnesses are called.

The judge's decision may or may not be final. After the hearing, the judge will consider all the evidence and mail a written decision to both parties. However, the decision may or may not be final, depending on the particular agency involved. Your attorney can explain exactly what the judge's decision means for you and your professional licensure.

To learn more about protecting your professional license in Washington, don't hesitate to consult an attorney who focuses on this niche area of law.

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