In this article, I will discuss three most important reasons for retaining a lawyer to represent you in a Contested Hearing conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
1. Contested Hearing conducted by the OAH is an Administrative Version of a Trial
Contested Hearing is an administrative trial. In most ways, it is highly similar to a regular civil trial, only with somewhat relaxed procedural and evidentiary rules. There is an administrative law judge and an attorney representing the other side. The rules of procedure and evidence, while more informal and less strict than in a usual trial, must be followed. Moreover, where the OAH does not provide for or omits certain procedures, the administrative judge will refer back directly to the civil court rules for the guidance.
Thus, you need to know the OAH rules. It is very easy to damage your case by making unnecessary procedural mistakes. Even where the mistakes are reversible, the image of your case may suffer.
2. Government Agencies are Represented by Attorneys
Government agencies realize the complexity and importance of the Contested Hearings. Hence, they are always represented by attorneys, often highly experienced and specialized in the relevant areas of law. Government lawyers are also well-versed in the procedural rules of the OAH.
Therefore, it is simply very difficult, if not impossible, for a business owner, who is not trained in law and inexperienced in the OAH procedures, to match the government’s combination of experience, knowledge, and skillful advocacy – even when the judge is lenient when it comes to procedural mistakes committed by the pro se litigators (i.e. business owners who choose to represent themselves).
3. Legal Fees are Often Lower than the Cost of Failure
An adverse ruling by the judge in a Contested Hearing may often put you out of business (for example, in a business license denial case). Even if your business is able to absorb the costs of the final outcome, the expenses associated with the provisions of the ruling may often be significantly higher than in a situation where an attorney’s timely intervention may have mitigated or averted altogether the worse terms of the judge’s decision.
Of course, hiring an attorney does not mean that you will automatically win your case. It does mean, however, that you will have a professional ardent advocate skilled in the art of law and procedure working solely to reach the most favorable outcome in your case. Even in a losing situation, your attorney may be able to find the least-damaging solution to your problem. Often, a lawyer may be able to settle the case even without the need to go to the hearing, avoiding the expenses associated with it.
While a Contest Hearing is not as full-blown civil trial, you should make sure that you are adequately represented during the hearing proceedings. There are procedures to follow, rules to know, and a formidable opponent to defend against. The stakes are usually sufficiently high to justify reasonable expenses on the legal representation.
Sherayzen Law Office can help you every step of the way in the pre-hearing process and it will provide vigorous and creative defense of your interests during the hearing. Call NOW at (612) 790-7024 to schedule the consultation!