The Texas State Legislature in 1991 passed a law creating the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings, or SOAH. It is meant to be an independent forum, under a banner of neutrality, before which legal and agency disputes between the general public and agencies, as well as Texas licensing boards, can be reviewed and decided. Its purpose is to mete out efficient legal decisions in a timely manner, having viewed them from an objective and fair standpoint. Many professional license disputes—in which a practitioner's licensure has come under attack from their own licensing Board for whatever reason—require a hearing before SOAH.
Not all formal complaint investigations must go to the level of a SOAH hearing, of course. Many find resolution through informal processes, some through negotiation or mediation, and some Boards and agencies simply don't have SOAH in their administrative or disciplinary pipelines.
Administrative hearings held by SOAH are somewhat like trials held in a courtroom. At these hearings both parties are granted the opportunity to present their cases. For a professional under fire, this means presenting a defense, replete with the questioning of witnesses and presentation of evidence of all sorts.
But unlike situations in which a Board holds its own hearings and casts judgments from a place of potential bias, the case before SOAH is heard by an Administrative Law Judge of impartial and independent bearing. These neutral figures expect a full showing of factual and legal argument. Following the hearing, this Administrative Law Judge will either make a recommendation to the investigating Board or, in some circumstances, make the final decision in the case.
Because a SOAH hearing is so much like a trial court setting, it is actually somewhat expected that a licensee have a professional license defense attorney to represent them. Certainly, it's the best idea to do so. We offer the best opportunity for navigation of the legal process and mounting a strong defense. In fact, this begins at the very first stage of the complaint process, when a licensed professional initially receives notice of a complaint against them.
Contact an Experienced Administrative Hearing License Defense Attorney Today
So when you receive notice of a complaint, do not hesitate to contact us. The more time we have to craft a response to the very first communication you receive—on which there are almost always deadlines to meet—the better able we will be to craft your strategic defense and set the scope of the investigation in your favor. BERTOLINO LLP will go the distance, from the very first stage of the process (where we can be effective at forestalling disciplinary proceedings) all the way to the end of any disciplinary proceedings, including SOHA hearings, that may occur as a result.
To best serve our clients, we have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.