What to Look for in a Qui Tam Lawyer

Qui tam is the shorthand Latin phrase (a phrase that does not appear in the False Claims Act Law itself), that those who practice this law have inflicted on people. It refers to a longer Latin phrase (also not in the law itself) that translates to he who will sue for himself as well as the king. The idea is that in the middle ages in England, it was possible to do that, to sue on behalf of the King. Lawyers imported that idea using the original False Claims Act in 1863 to create a private right of action to sue on behalf of the Government of the United States when the government is defrauded, and allow individuals to obtain a share of whatever the government was awarded for such a suit. The qui tam process can be a difficult process to navigate alone, which is why is important to work with an experienced qui tam attorney, however, it can be difficult to know what to look for in a qui tam lawyer. Read on to learn more about what makes a good whistleblower attorney.

Working with a Full-Time Whistleblower

If someone wants to know what to look for in a qui tam lawyer one of the first things they should consider is looking for attorneys who concentrate solely on whistleblower law. There are relatively few lawyers who do whistleblower reward laws as a full-time issue. There certainly are quite a few, but there are not as many as one might think in a country the size of the United States. Indeed given the size of the Federal Budget and the size of stock markets, the amount of cases brought under the False Claims Act or the SEC whistleblower law is really not that much.

Starting with an attorney who makes this their major area of practice,  is probably sensible.  The case law on the False Claims Act has almost doubled in terms of the number of cases in precedents out there in the last 10 years. The law was mostly dormant for many years until 1986 when it was revived through amendments in Congress. Taking the first five years from 1986, there were not that many cases filed, and then from 1991 or 1992 when people caught on to it, more cases were filed. Starting to look at False Claims Act cases say 15 years ago meant there was far less law to review. Now there is more and requires lawyers to be more regularly familiar with any developments.

Importance of an Attorney That Stays Updated on Whistleblower Law

All three of the major whistleblower reward programs, the IRS, the SEC, and the CFTC programs are also relatively new and evolving with respect to what constitutes fraud, what those agencies may pursue and how they proceed. These are areas for lawyers to constantly be reviewing and learning about. If a person is looking for a lawyer that not only understands the procedures but has some depth of background with respect to what makes a casework, why a case would or would not work it may be that maintaining a focus on these laws is more valuable now than it was in the past since there simply is more to know now.

Good Rapport With a Lawyer

Another important aspect when deciding what to look for in a qui tam lawyer is looking for someone that an individual feels comfortable with. When filing a different kind of case, it is possible that it may involve a relatively short period of time. There are many types of legal actions which do not involve a long-term relationship with the attorney, but it is difficult to pursue a False Claims Act case if the lawyer and the potential client do not have a good rapport.  The case may take a long time while the government investigates the whistleblower’s claims. Furthermore, that individual can not discuss the case with anyone outside of their own attorney while a False Claims Act case is under seal. So the ability to work with the attorney may count for more in this kind of case than most.

This is an individual’s decision and it is a difficult issue to provide a dataset of metrics, but a person has to consider the fact that they are going to be working with this lawyer. Not for two months and not for an isolated event, but the individual must consider that False Claims Act cases – whistleblower reward cases – can take years to resolve. One has to be able to work with an attorney and speak frankly with that attorney, maybe tell that attorney when they disagree with them so that they understand a concern. The individual must be able to trust the basis of their attorney’s advice. The allegations may involve the most important events in a whistleblower’s life, and yet the whistleblower may have to wait as the government does its job of investigating, learn what the government is considering, and then talk to the lawyer about how to bolster the case. All that requires a level of rapport with an attorney who understands the process and understands how long it can take and understands the burden on the whistleblower in bringing such a case.

Value of a Qui Tam Attorney

For those attorneys who do it full time, this commitment can be part of what makes the field rewarding. Working in partnership with a committed whistleblower is what makes most whistleblower lawyers proud of the work they get to do. If you are wondering what to look for in a qui tam lawyer, one of the most important things you can look for is an attorney that could dedicate the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome for you. If you want to know more, consult a knowledgeable lawyer that could answer your questions.