Lawyer Consultation Confidentiality – For whistleblowers who have sensitive information about serious illegal or fraudulent conduct, such as reporting Medicare fraud or becoming an SEC whistleblower, working with a whistleblower attorney can seem daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal process. But with a free confidential whistleblower consultation and proper guidance from an experienced, client-oriented whistleblower law firm like Brown, LLC, whose experienced qui tam attorneys have been through the process many times and are led by a former FBI special agent, you can get all your questions answered about the options available to you under the law, the legal process for filing a whistleblower case, and how to best protect yourself. Working with a whistleblower law firm throughout the process can empower you to stand up against systemic fraud and other serious workplace abuse and obtain the protections you deserve.
At Brown, LLC, we are committed to helping workers and others with knowledge of fraud navigate the complex landscape of whistleblower laws, and to guiding you through the process of filing a whistleblower case or action. In this post, we will outline what to expect when working with a whistleblower attorney and provide you with the resources you need to take the first step when dealing with a whistleblower attorney.
Lawyer Consultation Confidentiality
The first step in working with a whistleblower attorney is to schedule a consultation, and most firms that are successful whistleblower attorneys offer free, confidential consultations. This is an opportunity for you to candidly discuss your case without repercussions with a qualified whistleblower attorney, who will listen to your situation, potentially advise you on your options, and answer certain questions you may have. During this initial consultation, the whistleblower attorney will assess the strength of your case and help you understand what to expect and how the process will proceed if you are eligible to whistleblower. It is important to note that this initial consultation is completely privileged and confidential, which means that the whistleblower law firm has a duty to protect the information you tell them and not disclose the information you tell the firm without your express permission. The attorney-client privilege extends to communications seeking legal advice from prospective clients, even if the client ultimately decides not to proceed with a case. However, be aware that just because there is a privilege, it does not mean that the whistleblower law firm represents you – that will only happen if both sides want to cooperate, and a retainer is signed.
Know Whether Or Not A Lawyer Can Reject A Client
After you have had the initial consultation, the whistleblower’s attorney will advise you of your legal options, including if they believe there is a viable claim for recovery under a whistleblower law or program. If there is a case, you will be asked to keep evidence related to your case. This may include documents, emails, recordings, photos and other evidence that can be used to support your claim. You shouldn’t gather evidence that you don’t normally have access to, and it’s best to retain a whistleblower firm before you decide what documents and evidence you need to support your case. Your qui tam attorney will help you understand what evidence is relevant and how to present it in the strongest possible light. Importantly, if you have evidence stored on electronic devices, you must do everything possible to preserve the devices and the data stored on them, including but not limited to imaging the device, and even after the device is imaged, you must ensure not to trade it in, lose it or destroy it. The knowing failure to preserve evidence may be grounds for sanctions (for spoliation of evidence) later in the trial and may result in your case being thrown out. If you have already lost or destroyed evidence, whether paper or digital, you should inform the law firm directly during the intake or onboarding process. And even if you have no evidence whatsoever other than your own testimony, don’t worry; the firm will still help you find out if there is a route to blow the whistle.
Once you and the whistleblower law firm have decided to work together, the firm will work with you to integrate the evidence and information you have into a draft complaint to potentially file with the appropriate authority as determined by your specific allegations: an SEC whistleblower complaint, a AML whistleblower complaint, a CFTC whistleblower complaint, an NHTSA whistleblower complaint, or an IRS whistleblower complaint. If your whistleblower complaint alleges Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, defense contractor fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, or other fraud against a federal agency, it will be filed in federal court under seal, as required by the False Claims Act; or, if you allege that violators are defrauding a state agency, the complaint can be filed under seal in state court. Respected whistleblower law firms like Brown, LLC will give you the opportunity to review your complaint before filing, to turn the key to approve its accuracy and clarity for filing.
As stated above, the process of filing the whistleblower case is largely determined by the type of case you are reporting. If your case is a qui tam False Claims Act lawsuit, our attorneys will file a lawsuit confidentially, under seal, in federal court detailing how the company or organization defrauded the government. If your case involves securities fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, or another form of fraud handled by government agencies such as the IRS or SEC, your attorney will submit your information through the appropriate whistleblowing program. Your attorney will work with you to craft a complaint that is well-written, clear, and persuasive, and that presents the strongest possible case. Your attorney will also take into account factors such as variations in case law and circuit law governing each jurisdiction to maximize your chances of success and recovery.
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Cases under the False Claims Act have been filed. This means that the documents filed in the case before a court are not available to the public, and only the judge and the authorities are aware of the case. While federal and most state laws require an initial sixty-day sealing period, many cases remain sealed for months (if not years) while the government investigates your claims. During this time, you are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone other than your lawyers and government officials. The defendant will be completely unaware of the proceedings. During the sealing period, government investigators will interview witnesses, collect documents from the relevant government agencies and, if appropriate, serve civil subpoenas on the defendant. However, once the government finishes its investigation (usually at some point well down the road), your false claims case will be dismissed by the court. You should work with your firm to understand your legal and functional options at that point, as you will have time to plan for it and can benefit from working with a law firm that has represented hundreds of other people who have been through it same process.
As your case progresses, you can expect your lawyer to work with you every step of the way. This may include negotiating with your employer at later stages, appearing on your behalf in court or representing you in settlement negotiations. Your attorney will be your advocate, working tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected and that you potentially receive the compensation you deserve, although nothing is ever guaranteed.
Under the Federal False Claims Act, if and when the government intervenes (i.e., takes over the case), the whistleblower is entitled to between 15% and 25% of any settlement or judgment paid by the defendant. If the government declines to intervene, and we litigate the case without the government, the whistleblower may receive 25% to 30% of the recovery in the case, if any. Additionally, the recovery (if any) can sometimes be enhanced by invoking other federal and state laws, so it’s good to plan your legal strategy early, and candidly disclose all the facts to your attorney.
Working with a whistleblower attorney can be an empowering experience that helps you finally stand up against widespread fraud and/or egregious workplace abuse and secure the protections you deserve. At Brown, LLC, we are committed to helping our clients understand what to expect when working with a whistleblower attorney, and to guiding clients through the process every step of the way. With years of whistleblower experience, numerous legal awards, and recognition from Lex Machina regarding the scope of our whistleblower practice, our qui tam team is equipped to help you maximize your chance of obtaining the outcome you desire. Contact our whistleblowing team for a free confidential consultation.
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If you have inside information about government fraud, or other illegal or unethical behavior occurring in your workplace and want to blow the whistle to end it
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