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The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) was put in place to “serve, safeguard, and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the public by ensuring that licensure qualifications and standards for professional practice are properly evaluated, applied and enforced.”

To do this, the IDFPR governs over 100 professional licenses in Illinois imposing disciplines yearly on 3,000 licensees in the various professions and occupations it regulates.
When the IDFPR receives any source of a complaint or allegation against a licensee, the case is thoroughly investigated. After a complete evaluation of the case, the case is assigned to a prosecuting attorney in the department of the licensee. The prosecuting attorney, after review, can decide to close the case, file a formal Complaint or schedule the matter for a Disciplinary Conference.

A Disciplinary Conference is often referred to as an Informal Conference, but there is nothing informal about it. It is not mandatory, but results from an informal conference can result in very serious ramifications to your license, including censure and suspension. It is important to be properly prepared and/or represented to avoid a potentially expensive dilemma.

Howver, with proper representation, informal conferences can be an efficient and cost-effective way to resolve licensing disputes quickly and confidentially.

A Disciplinary Conference allows the opportunity for a representative of the licensee to meet on an ‘informal’ basis with a staff attorney and a board member. These conferences are confidential, and no court reporter is present. The focus during this is to resolve the matter without having the IDFPR file a formal complaint.

Because you want the case resolved without your license being affected, it’s extremely important that you have an experienced attorney in your corner at that point.  Don’t be fooled by the word “informal.”  This is all very serious business and should be taken seriously.  The longer the process plays out, the greater at risk your career is.

At the initiation of a Disciplinary Conference, the licensee will be asked a series of questions related to the complaint made against them. Following this is the time to present any pertinent information regarding the case. Customarily, the licensee and their attorney will be asked to leave while the Department attorney and board member(s) discuss the matter. Following this private discussion, all parties are welcomed back into the room to discuss next actions.

At this point the Department hasthe option to close the case completely. In some cases, the Department may issue an Administrative Warning Letter or a Letter of Concern. Neither of these letters are not reported and not kept as public record. Other cases, a settlement offer may be made.

If offered a settlement following a Disciplinary Conference, it is not an official finding of the board, no matter how it is presented by the prosecutor, and you can either accept, counter-offer or deny the offer. If accepted, a written Consent Order is drafted and presented for signature. This can take some time and it is very important that any document received relating to the settlement is carefully reviewed and is as agreed upon before consenting and signing. The Consent Order is then approved by the department board and finally by the Director of the Department’s Division of Professional Regulation for their approval. Only then can it be officially filed.

A Formal Complaint is made if the licensee rejects the settlement offer or makes no acceptable counter-offer. A Formal Complaint generally leads to a formal evidentiary hearing, which often leads to more sever actions against the licensee including larger fines, suspension or revocation of license, or other disciplinary actions.

If you have any questions about this process or need an attorney in your corner with a track record of success, contact us at any time.