Every year, the government collects billions of dollars from companies that have committed fraud, without whistleblowers willing to stand against fraud this would not be possible.
This is why it’s critically important for whistleblowers, who often are entitled to a significant financial reward, to select the right law firm for representation. To that end, here are five crucial tips for choosing a whistleblower attorney:
1. SIZE AND RESOURCES MATTER
Hundreds of whistleblower cases, including False Claims Act and SEC and CFTC whistleblower complaints, are filed by very small law firms often without significant resources. With limited resources to properly evaluate the several potential, often intersecting, paths for a whistleblower to take a whistleblower is handicapped. In False Claims Act cases, a whistleblower must stand ready to prosecute the case if the government declines to do so. In SEC, CFTC and IRS cases, without adequate resources and a deep bench on which to draw for expertise, a whistleblower’s complaint will be inadequately prepared and unlikely to move the government to action. We're different.
With attorneys in offices worldwide with several specialized areas of expertise, Hagens Berman’s team of whistleblower attorneys has consistently secured awards for our whistleblower clients and won large judgments or settlements when pitted against powerful companies that have defrauded the government.
One reason for this success is the depth of our bench and commitment to use the resources at our disposal to help our whistleblower clients. We probably have the best track record of verdicts and settlements against major companies of any firm in the U.S., and you want that horsepower when taking on a corporate giant.
2. EXPERIENCE AND INTELLIGENCE CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Hagens Berman’s team of attorneys is led by one of the country’s most successful attorneys, founder and managing partner Steve Berman and head of Hagens Berman’s whistleblower practice Shayne Stevenson, described by Bloomberg reporter and “Flash Crash” author Liam Vaughan as a “go-to lawyer” for whistleblowers, and one of the top SEC and CFTC whistleblower attorneys for the past decade. They are flanked by a team of attorneys with decades of experience in all area of whistleblower law, including dozens of attorneys who litigate fraud matters, securities and financial fraud experts, certified forensic accountants and several lawyers with backgrounds in finance and employment law. And our firm only represents whistleblowers – never corporate defendants.
Hundreds of law firms advertise their skills as whistleblower attorneys, but only a small number have the depth of experience and technical expertise to take on massive companies through years of sustained litigation.
3. YOUR ATTORNEY’S REPUTATION CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CASE
The success or failure of a whistleblower case turns on whether the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, state Attorneys General, the IRS or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission find the whistleblower allegations compelling and credible. Nearly 800 False Claims Act cases are filed each year. Several thousand complaints are filed each year with the SEC, CFTC and IRS. Only a small number of those cases are successful – most don’t even result in the government conducting an investigation.
Managing partner Steve Berman and our head of whistleblower practice Shayne Stevenson have built an unrivaled reputation for excellence and integrity with state and federal government agencies and prosecutors. We bring a select number of whistleblower cases every year and bring our cases to agencies and prosecutors familiar with our success. This makes all the difference for a whistleblower.
4. TRUST IS ESSENTIAL
A whistleblower needs to trust the attorney hired to work on a whistleblower case often for several years. Whistleblower cases are often personally challenging for a whistleblower, who needs to trust that the attorney hired will diligently develop and advance the case. Many firms will ignore whistleblower clients or pawn the whistleblower off to an inexperienced attorney. Our firm is different – our senior attorneys work directly with our whistleblower clients through the life of the case. Whistleblowers need to interview attorneys and ask important questions about resources, experience, successes, strategy, and compatibility. Once a whistleblower interviews with our firm, they rarely if ever choose other counsel instead. We don’t trust that trust lightly – we’ve earned it for decades.
5. THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR RESULTS
More than 90% of False Claims Act whistleblower cases are unsuccessful, and less than 3% of whistleblower complaints compel the SEC or CFTC to even open an investigation; far less than 1% of those cases ever result in an award to a whistleblower. Our firm is a track record of working with quality whistleblowers whose complaints beat those odds. Time and again, when facing long odds and deep-pocketed opponents, Hagens Berman’s whistleblower attorneys have succeeded in winning record-setting judgments or settlements.