How to Choose the Best Whistleblower Lawyer
5 Common Mistakes & Insider Tips for Choosing the Most Qualified Whistleblower Lawyer for Your Case
By: Dr. Nick Oberheiden and James Bell
When you have information about corporate fraud, acting swiftly not only mitigates the risk of additional losses for the federal government or U.S. consumers, but it also helps to ensure your access to whistleblower protections. While multiple federal statutes provide whistleblower protections, these protections are only available under limited circumstances. By hiring an attorney to help you file your claim as quickly as possible, you can make sure you are not at risk for retaliation, and you can make sure you preserve your eligibility for whistleblower compensation.
But, when you have information about corporate fraud – and are potentially eligible for a substantial whistleblower award as a result – you cannot entrust your legal matter to just any attorney. You need an attorney who has an intimate understanding of the federal whistleblower regime and who can quickly do what is necessary to protect you and your legal rights. At Fraud Reporting Firm, we represent whistleblowers nationwide, and our attorneys have centuries of combined experience on both sides of high-stakes whistleblower cases.
Are You a Whistleblower?
When choosing a whistleblower lawyer, one of the first questions you need to ask is: Are you a whistleblower? While this means that you need to have nonpublic information about corporate fraud, waste, or abuse, it does not necessarily mean that you need to have a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to file a federal whistleblower claim. An experienced whistleblower lawyer will be able to assess your information and determine if it is sufficient to file; and, if it is not, your attorney should be able to advise you of your next steps to continue pursuing a whistleblower claim.
There are several different federal whistleblower statutes; and, while many of these statutes are similar in certain regards, they each contain their own specific requirements. Generally speaking, however, in order to qualify as a whistleblower, you must:
- Have actual knowledge of corporate fraud, waste, or abuse (as opposed to a concern, hunch, or second-hand information);
- Have evidence of corporate fraud, waste, or abuse (i.e. emails, text messages, corporate memos, or other documentation);
- Have evidence that is sufficient to establish the company(ies) and/or individual(s) involved in the fraud as well as where, when, and how it occurred;
- Have obtained your evidence from somewhere other than a public source (i.e. within your role as a corporate employee); and,
- Have knowledge and evidence that relate to fraud involving the misappropriation of federal funds, the issuance of securities, or any of the other specific issues covered by the federal whistleblower statutes.
Another key aspect of filing a whistleblower claim is that you must be the first to file. If someone else provides the federal government with the same or similar information before you get the chance, or if a federal agency independently launches an investigation into the fraud in question, then you will no longer be eligible to receive a whistleblower award. As a result, when choosing a lawyer, it is important to ensure that your lawyer is prepared to get to work immediately to prepare and file a complaint on your behalf.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive for Coming Forward?
While blowing the whistle on corporate fraud serves to protect the U.S. government, U.S. taxpayers, and the U.S. population at large, filing a whistleblower claim comes with a direct financial incentive as well. As a whistleblower, you are eligible to receive up to 30% (and in some cases up to 40%) of the amount that the government recovers.
In the largest-ever whistleblower cases, individuals have received well in excess of $100 million. However, even if your information does not pertain to fraud that has cost the government or U.S. citizens hundreds of millions of dollars, you could still be entitled to a significant award if your complaint results in the recovery of fraudulently-obtained funds. The specific amount of your award will depend on three primary factors:
- How large is the scale of the fraud that you are reporting?
- Which federal whistleblower statute applies?
- Is the federal government going to “intervene” in your qui tam lawsuit?
For more information about the compensation that is available to whistleblowers in federal cases, you can read: What’s My Case Worth?
Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Law Firm for Your Federal Whistleblower Case
Given the importance (and challenges) of filing a federal whistleblower claim, you need to make an informed choice about the law firm that represents you. If you choose a law firm that lacks sufficient experience in federal whistleblower cases, you could be putting your compensation award and statutory protections at risk. On the other hand, if you choose a law firm with attorneys who have deep experience in federal whistleblower cases, you can feel confident knowing that: (i) you are making informed decisions; (ii) you are not jeopardizing your legal rights and protections; and, (iii) you are giving yourself the best chance to secure a whistleblower award.
Several law firms market themselves as providing whistleblower representation. However, not all of these law firms offer the same level of experience, ability, and client service. With this in mind, when choosing a law firm for your federal whistleblower case, here are five mistakes you need to avoid:
Mistake #1: Choosing a Law Firm with Inadequate Whistleblower Experience
Virtually all aspects of filing a federal whistleblower claim require experienced legal representation. From determining when you have enough evidence to file a claim (and actually filing your claim) to making sure you receive the compensation to which you are legally entitled, as a whistleblower, you need highly-experienced legal counsel. If you choose a law firm with attorneys who lack the necessary experience, you will be putting your whistleblower claim in jeopardy.
Mistake #2: Choosing a Law Firm with Inadequate Resources
In addition to requiring in-depth knowledge of the federal whistleblower regime, filing a claim also requires substantial resources. Many law firms simply lack the financial capital and technological resources required to efficiently and effectively represent clients in federal whistleblower matters. Of course, many law firms will not necessarily disclose these challenges, and they may be able to provide competent representation—even if they are not able to provide the best representation available. As a result, as a prospective client, it is important to ask probing questions and make sure the firm you choose is more than capable of pursuing your whistleblower claim effectively.
Mistake #3: Choosing a Law Firm that Only Handles State-Level Whistleblower Claims
In addition to the federal whistleblower statutes, there are numerous state whistleblower statutes as well. Some law firms handle state-level whistleblower claims but do not have the experience and resources required to handle claims at the federal level. State and federal whistleblower claims are very different—from the legal principles that apply to the procedures that are involved. If you have a federal whistleblower claim, you need to make sure that you choose a federal whistleblower law firm.
Mistake #4: Choosing a Law Firm Without Testimonials and Positive Reviews
Law firms that have substantial track records of success and that are well-known for providing professional-level client service will have long lists of testimonials and positive reviews. If a law firm has limited positive reviews online, or if it has a history of negative client reviews, then you will almost certainly be better served to choose another law firm.
Mistake #5: Taking Too Long to Make Your Decision
While it is important that you make an informed decision about your legal representation, it is equally important that you not spend too much time making your decision. As discussed above, the longer you wait, the greater the chances are that someone else will file a claim before you or that the government will independently launch an investigation. Skilled federal whistleblower lawyers will understand the importance of prompt action and will be prepared to get to work on your case immediately—and this is the type of service you should expect when you have a federal whistleblower claim.
Why Should You Choose Fraud Reporting Firm for Your Federal Whistleblower Case?
Given all of the above considerations, why do we believe that Fraud Reporting Firm is the right law firm for your federal whistleblower case? Perhaps more importantly, why have our past clients chosen Fraud Reporting Firm over the other whistleblower law firms that are out there? Here are five reasons why whistleblowers nationwide trust Fraud Reporting Firm to represent them:
Reason #1: We have Deep Experience on Both Sides of Federal Whistleblower Cases
At Fraud Reporting Firm, we have deep experience on both sides of federal whistleblower cases. In addition to extensive experience representing whistleblowers, our attorneys also have experience defending companies against whistleblower allegations in high-stakes federal fraud cases, and several of our attorneys formerly prosecuted whistleblower cases at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Reason #2: We have a Nationwide Network of Senior Attorneys Who Rely on Our Firm’s Vast Technological Resources
With a nationwide network of senior attorneys with offices in major cities around the country, we are able to offer representation to whistleblowers throughout the United States. All of the attorneys in our network are highly-experienced, and they are all committed to our firm’s mission of providing skilled, effective, and unwavering representation to our clients. We rely on state-of-the-art technologies to keep our attorneys connected, and we have the resources required to efficiently handle even the largest-scale federal whistleblower cases.
Reason #3: We have a Proven Record of Success in Large-Scale Federal Fraud Cases
Our attorneys have had significant success on both sides of large-scale federal fraud cases, including cases involving qui tam litigation. With experience successfully representing whistleblowers and defending companies against whistleblowers’ allegations, our lawyers have an intimate understanding of what it takes to file a successful whistleblower claim. We have the experience required to effectively represent our clients in retaliation matters and whistleblower compensation appeals as well.
Reason #4: We Prioritize Client Service and All Clients Work Directly with Our Senior Attorneys
When you choose Fraud Reporting Firm, you will work directly with our senior attorneys on all aspects of your federal whistleblower claim. Unlike other firms, we do not employ junior associates or paralegals. We emphasize clear and regular client communication, and all of our attorneys are committed to ensuring that our clients have the information they need to feel confident about the status and trajectory of their federal fraud reporting cases.
Reason #5: We Do What it Takes to Protect Our Clients’ Confidentiality, Their Jobs, and Their Right to Whistleblower Compensation
Above all, we do what it takes to protect our clients without exception. This means that we will work diligently to protect your confidentiality, we will take appropriate legal action if you face retaliation, and we will make sure you receive the compensation to which you are legally entitled as a whistleblower. While no outcome is guaranteed, what we can guarantee is that we will fight relentlessly to protect you by all means available. As our client, protecting you is our priority.
Do you have a federal whistleblower claim? Do you think you might have enough evidence to come forward as a whistleblower? Do you have questions about your right to compensation, confidentiality, or protection against retaliation? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our senior attorneys to learn more about why Fraud Reporting Firm is the right choice for you.
Are You Ready to Get Started? Learn More about Our Firm in a Free and Confidential Consultation
For more information about our attorneys’ experience in federal whistleblower cases, please contact us promptly to arrange a free initial consultation. All information you share during your free initial consultation will be held in strict confidence. To speak with one of our senior whistleblower attorneys as soon as possible, call 718-571-8324 or tell us how we can reach you online now.