There are many ways to choose a lawyer, but the ideal way is to identify a lawyer that puts the client’s interest first. This can get complicated in the whistleblower context where the “client” is publicizing misconduct by one party (i.e., the defendant) against the deceived party (i.e., the government). Often caught in the middle, a whistleblower needs a unique kind of attorney – capable of putting the client’s interest first while navigating complex issues – with the experience, resources and track record necessary to prevail.
When searching for a whistleblower lawyer, consider the following:
- Experience – Whistleblower and qui tam representation is complicated. They often involve more than one case, take years to resolve and cost considerable money to handle. They involve a wide range of industries, legal issues and procedural complications. Finding a lawyer that has experience with all of these variables, is knowledgeable about the industry and the law, and has the versatility to navigate factual and legal cross-currents is critical.
- Rescources – A lawyer needs to have the resources necessary to properly research, manage and resolve whistleblower claims. These expenses – for travel, investigators, electronic discovery, expert witnesses, etc. – can be enormous. And because whistleblower litigation is on a contingency basis, the lawyer must front all the expenses, forgo any fee until the case is resolved and be prepared to lose money if the case is not successful. As a result, the firm’s financially stability is key, as are the number of matters the firm is a pursuing at any given time. If the firm is understaffed, its lawyers spread too thin, or its finances not properly managed, its cases may suffer.
- Track Record – Results matter. It’s important to know how well your lawyer has done representing other whistlebowers. This can be difficult with some many matters filed and resolved under seal. However, a client should feel free to ask the attorney to provide more information about the firm’s history or ask former clients what it was like to work with the firm and its lawyers.