Claire M. Sylvia

Clire Sylvia

Claire M. Sylvia

San Francisco, California

Claire M. Sylvia is the author of a leading treatise on the False Claims Act and its “qui tam” (whistleblower) provisions, The False Claims Act: Fraud Against the Government, 2d (West 2010 and Supp. 2012).  

Ms. Sylvia has represented whistleblowers in many successful cases, such as:

  • A whistleblower case against Alliant Techsystems (ATK) that settled for about $37 million. The settlement included the cost to retrofit 76,000 defective military flares that put military personnel at serious risk of death or injury if the flares were accidentally dropped while being handled or in transit.
  • A qui tam case against Adventist Health that settled for $14.1 million. The lawsuit alleged Adventist Health violated the False Claims Act based on the underlying violations of the Stark Statute and the Anti-Kickback Statute.
  • A whistleblower lawsuit against Northrop Grumman, which alleged Northrop had failed to test certain electronic components it sold the U.S. military for use in the navigation systems of planes, helicopters and submarines. Northrop paid $12.5 million to settle the case.
  •  A qui tam case against Rocky Mountain Instrument Co. (RMI) that broke new ground in the application of the False Claims Act. It apparently was the first time the False Claims Act was used in connection with violations of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Arms Control Export Act.

Because of her expertise in the False Claims Act and qui tam cases, Ms. Sylvia has consulted with state officials on ways to create and effectively expand state whistleblower laws. She provided testimony before a congressional subcommittee in 2012 on Medicaid fraud enforcement and testified before the California Senate Judiciary Committee on the 2009 amendments to the California False Claims Act.  

Ms. Sylvia has co-authored several articles on the False Claims Act and “Practitioner Insight” articles on the False Claims Act published on WestlawNext. She has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences on whistleblower laws and has taught a course on public integrity at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Recently she co-taught a course on whistleblower law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law with fellow Phillips & Cohen partner Erika A. Kelton. It was one of the first courses on the False Claims Act taught at a major law school.

Ms. Sylvia joined Phillips & Cohen after 10 years with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in government ethics. Before working in the City Attorney’s Office, she was an assistant legal counsel in the Office of the U.S. Senate Legal Counsel. In that position, she represented Senate parties in litigation and advised Senate committees on legal matters related to investigations and other committee proceedings.

Ms. Sylvia graduated from Harvard Law School in 1987. She was a member of the Harvard Law Review.  Following graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Mariana Pfaelzer, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Ms. Sylvia is admitted to the bar in California.

Areas of Practice

  • Whistleblower/Qui Tam
  • Government Agencies & Programs
  • Government Contracts
  • Health & Health Care Law
  • Whistleblower -- Employee
  • Tax Law


  • Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts - 1987
    • Law Review: Harvard Law Review, Member

Published Works

  • "The False Claims Act: Fraud Against the Government", 2004 - present, annual supplement


  • Whistleblower Law: Deterring Fraud Against the Government (Co-Teacher), University of California Berkeley Law School (Fall 2013 and Fall 2014)

Past Employment Positions

  • San Francisco City Attorney's Office
  • Office of the U.S. Senate Legal Counsel, Assistant Legal Counsel
  • Hon. Mariana Pfaelzer, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Law Clerk