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Five Tips for Appearing Before Florida’s Administrative Boards

Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) is the state agency in charge of licensing and regulating businesses and professionals within Florida.  DBPR is governed by Chapter 120 of The Florida Statutes also known as the Administrative Procedure Act. 

Potential licensees and current license holders may have to go before a governing board for several reasons including, but not limited to, an appeal of a board ruling, an initial application for licensure, a disciplinary hearing, or an informal hearing. This blog is designed to provide five (5) general tips for appearing in front of a board. A full list of the administrative boards under DBPR can be found here.

When appearing in front of a board for any reason, it is vital to recognize and understand that the board’s decision will have a significant effect on your ability to earn a livelihood in your chosen profession. If the Board’s decision is not in your favor, you may have your license suspended or permanently revoked. It is beneficial to obtain the services of a competent and experienced attorney to aid you in preparing for and presenting your case in front of a board. You should seek representation immediately upon receiving notice of any violations or investigations to allow for a proper response to the board’s notice. The following are five (5) tips are for appearing in front of an administrative board:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the procedures of the regulating Board. This can be accomplished by observing the board during a hearing before your scheduled hearing. DBPR boards provide schedules that outline dates, times, and locations for board meetings. The schedules can be found here on the DBPR website. Observing hearings prior to your own, can help you in several ways. First, you can develop an understanding of the structure of the hearings so that you can be better equipped to adhere to the procedures. Second, you can see arguments that may or may not have worked for others and then adjust your arguments. Lastly, you can get an understanding on how boards rule on certain issues and then adjust your plan accordingly. 
  1. Identify and understand why you are appearing before a Board. Having a clear understanding of the issues in your case is beneficial to you because it ensures efficiency. Your case is not the only case that will be presented before the board on that day. Providing the board with clear and succinct explanations or arguments will be beneficial to you as it shows preparation and an appreciation for the board’s time. 
  1. Preparation is key. This is to emphasize points from tip 2. PREPARATION IS KEY. Winging it or going with the flow is not an option for a hearing in front of a regulating board because your livelihood is too precious to leave up to chance. Fully understanding “why” you are in front of a board will aid you in preparing sufficient answers to the board’s questions. If your issue was a deficiency a full explanation clarifying the deficiency and evidence of any measures taking since to cure an allege deficiency is key. Avoid excuses, answers should be explanatory, and action backed. Howell, Buchan & Strong Attorneys are experienced in representing clients before regulating boards and can aid you in effective preparation for a board hearing that is more likely to yield a favorable result. 
  1. Control yourself.  During a hearing many often present their case with emotions. It is essential to avoid arguments that are solely emotion driven during board hearings. Becoming angry and defensive will not yield a result in your favor. It is easier said than done as many of the board’s questions are intrusive and may be offensive. Circling back to tip 3, preparation for those types of questions can help you keep your composure during the hearing. Be mindful that the board is charged with determining if you are the type of person that can be trusted to serve Florida residents with professionalism and care, if during the hearing you are unable to control yourself, that will reflect poorly on your character. The Attorney’s at Howell, Buchan & Strong can assist you with developing a balanced defense for a board hearing and can help you avoid emotion driven presentations by representing you during the hearing.   
  1. Be professional. Board hearings are held via teleconference, virtually, or in-person. Regardless of what medium your hearing is held, it is vital to your success that you exhibit overall professionalism. This includes, but is not limited to, being early to your hearing. By being early you give yourself room to address any issues that may arise, whether those issues are technological or simply traffic. You are not in control of all the issues that may arise, but you are in control of being early. If your hearing is in-person or virtually, you should dress in business attire. Pajama tops during a virtual hearing will not suffice. For virtual hearings, from the waist up you should wear business attire. For an in-person hearing ensure that you are in full business attire. Your appearance can work for or against you during a hearing. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Professionalism also includes your tone, demeanor, and how you address Board members. Remember that the Board is control. Be respectful and precise in your responses as you have a lot at stake.  

Remember, (1) Familiarize yourself with the procedures of the regulating Board; (2) Identify and understand why you are appearing before a Board; (3) Preparation is key; (4) Control yourself; and (5) Be professional. By following these tips, you will be better prepared to present effective arguments to the governing Board. The Attorneys at Howell, Buchan & Strong can help you develop and present an effective case to the regulating board.  

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