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Choosing a Lawyer

Do I need a lawyer?

Yes. Unlike some other civil cases, you cannot successfully pursue a False Claims Act case without an attorney. A whistleblower is effectively acting on behalf of the government, and the courts have determined that the government is entitled to be represented in court by a lawyer.

Having an attorney is not only required, it is critical to a successful case. The False Claims Act has many technicalities and failure to comply with even one of them might result in you losing your rights.  A lawyer experienced in False Claims Act litigation also will help determine the best arguments and evidence available and the best presentation of those arguments and evidence. 

How will I pay for a lawyer?

False Claims Act lawyers generally work on a contingency fee basis, which means that the client does not need to pay any fee at all unless there is a recovery, and then the fee comes entirely from the money paid by the defendant. The lawyers’ fee is generally in two parts.  First, the lawyer receives a share of the money that the relator collects from the government (which the government received from the defendant). Second, the lawyer receives statutory fees, costs and expenses directly from the defendant.

What questions should you ask when selecting a lawyer?

1.  Is the law firm experienced with the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act has many technical requirements. If a lawyer fails to follow even one of these requirements, the relator might lose all of his/her rights. For example, the federal False Claims Act requires that a whistleblower serve the complaint on the Attorney General before filing the lawsuit. Some lawyers have not done this, leading to the argument that the whistleblower is entitled to absolutely nothing, regardless of how much time, money and effort the whistleblower spends or how many hundreds of millions of dollars the whistleblower recovers for the government. Law firms who have experience with the False Claims Act understand the requirements of the law and will help ensure that your case complies with these requirements.

2.  Is the law firm experienced in litigating complicated lawsuits?

Many defendants vigorously defend against whistleblower allegations, which often results in a complicated, lengthy, and time-consuming lawsuit about events that may have taken place over a series of years. Lawyers who do not have experience with complex litigation can be much less effective than those who do. 

3.  Does the law firm have the necessary resources to take the case all the way to trial if the government chooses not to intervene?

The government joins, or “intervenes” in about 20% of the False Claims Act cases that are filed. In the other 80%, the whistleblower can still move forward if the government does not intervene, but doing so requires a very significant investment of time and resources. For example, in the Tyson v. Amerigroup case, Goldberg Kohn (the whistleblower's lawyers) participated in more than 70 depositions and reviewed more than one million pages of documents. Goldberg Kohn was able to do that because it is a firm of nearly 100 lawyers, and it had the resources to devote to the case. A smaller firm might not have been able to pull together the necessary resources to move the case forward or to achieve a judgment of more than $300 million.

4.  Has the law firm achieved exceptional results in the past?

Some law firms have proved their qualities by winning tough cases. While past wins do not guarantee future success, a law firm's successes can be a valuable indicator of quality.

5.  Does the law firm have a good working relationship with the government?

The False Claims Act envisions a partnership between the whistleblower and the government. A whistleblower brings important information to the process. The government, however, has many important roles to play, and maintaining a positive and trustful working relationship is critical to achieving positive results.

6.  Have independent organizations endorsed the law firm's work?

It can be difficult to reach a reliable conclusion about the quality of a law firm, especially for someone outside of the legal profession. Several organizations, such as the Public Justice Foundation, Taxpayers Against Fraud, and the National Law Journal, perform rigorous analyses to identify the most effective lawyers in the country. These organizations provide unbiased and independent information. All three organizations have named Goldberg Kohn’s whistleblower attorneys as being at the very top of the qui tam profession.

Attorneys at Law

55 East Monroe Street
Suite 3300
Chicago, Illinois 60603-5792
Tel: 312-863-7222
Fax: 312.332.2196
Email: whistle@goldbergkohn.com

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