How to Select the Best Whistleblower Lawyer for Your Case
If you are considering blowing the whistle on fraud, waste, or abuse in your workplace, or against an entity that is defrauding the federal government or committing securities violations, you need an experienced whistleblower lawyer to protect your rights and interests. Whistleblower cases can be complex and involve sensitive information, so you want to make sure you choose the best lawyer for your case. Here are some factors to consider when determining who is the best whistleblower lawyer for your case:
One of the most critical selection elements is experience – look for a lawyer or law firm who has experience representing whistleblowers in cases similar to yours. Ask about the lawyer’s track record of success in whistleblower cases and the types of cases they typically handle and how, if at all, your case, is similar to prior matters they’ve handled. You want a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and regulations that apply to your case and knows how to navigate the legal system. Check out who’s on their whistleblower team? Is it a solo practice? Small Firm? Is there a dedicated portion of the practice to protecting whistleblowers? Does the firm have anyone with prior Department of Justice experience? Little things mean a lot. A former DOJ attorney, whether it was an Assistant United States Attorney or FBI Legal Advisor could help seamlessly interface with the DOJ in False Claims Act cases or SEC Whistleblower matters, versus a complete outsider who doesn’t know the inner workings of the government and may not be able to prosecute the matters as seamlessly.
Research the lawyer’s reputation in the legal community and among clients. Check online reviews, testimonials, and ratings from previous clients to see if the lawyer has a history of satisfied clients. This could be a deceptive indicator however, as certain states may prohibit solicitation of reviews and certain firms may have mechanisms to induce reviews that other states prohibit. Reputation certainly matters, but results are key.
Choose a lawyer who is responsive and communicates well. You want a lawyer who will keep you informed about the progress of your case, answer your questions in a timely manner, and explain legal concepts in a way that is easy to understand. A good lawyer should be accessible and willing to discuss your concerns. If the law firm is not responsive when you’re evaluating which firm to choose, expect the same after you start working with them. There’s long quiet periods during litigation, but even during the quiet times, you should feel like you can call and ask questions and receive reassurance about the status and progress of your case.
Whistleblower cases can be time-consuming and expensive. Look for a lawyer who has the resources to pursue your case effectively. Ask about the lawyer’s staff, technology, and access to experts who can assist with your case. You want a lawyer who has the resources to thoroughly investigate your case and present the strongest possible case to the government. How long has the whistleblower trial lawyer been practicing? Does the firm have a war chest to prosecute the matter if it becomes expensive? Do they have the endurance to go the distance? Generally look for firms that have more than just a couple attorneys, so if one attorney is on trial, the other attorneys can still advance your case when needed.
Whistleblower lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means they’re only paid if you win your case. The fee is usually a percentage of the recovery, typically up to 40% and potentially their hourly bill paid by the Defendants. Look for a lawyer who offers a fair and reasonable fee agreement and is transparent about the fees and costs associated with your case. Forty percent may seem like a lot, but 40% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Never skimp on good attorneys and accountants – in the long term they save you money and aggravation. Also, no matter how earnestly you believe your case is a blockbuster, you’d be surprised that more cases fail than succeed. Courts throw out cases all the time, Defendants go bankrupt, etc. so there’s risk with any litigation. Law firms who take the matter on contingency basis, share the risk, but if you assume for every case that succeeds, two fail along the way, the imputed percentage is fair.
Choose a lawyer who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to represent your interests. Whistleblower cases can be stressful and emotional, so it’s important to work with a lawyer who you feel is on your side and who you believe will fight for your rights.
When evaluating potential whistleblower lawyers, it’s important to ask the right questions and do your due diligence. Here are some questions to consider asking:
Have you handled whistleblower cases like mine before?
What is your success rate in whistleblower cases like mine?
How will you communicate with me throughout the case?
What resources do you have to investigate and pursue my case?
What is your fee structure, and how are fees and costs calculated?
How long do you expect my case to take?
In addition to evaluating potential whistleblower lawyers, it’s important to understand the whistleblower laws that apply to your case. Depending on the nature of the fraud or misconduct, you may be protected under federal or state laws, such as the False Claims Act for individuals blowing the whistle on things like Medicare Fraud, Pharmaceutical Fraud, Customs Fraud, Defense Contractor Fraud, if your blowing the whistle on securities fraud under SOX or the Dodd-Frank Act you would look for an SEC whistleblower law firm, commodities fraud, a CFTC whistleblower lawyer and there’s many more areas of law as well, including state law. Each law has specific requirements and procedures that must be followed, so it’s important to work with a lawyer who is familiar with the applicable laws and regulations.
Choosing the best whistleblower law firm for you is crucial to the success of your case. Look for a lawyer who has experience, a good reputation, effective communication, adequate resources, a fair fee agreement, and with whom you feel comfortable working. By doing your due diligence and asking the right questions, you can find the best whistleblower lawyer for your case and protect your rights as a whistleblower.