John R. Phillips

John R. Phillips

Washington, District of Columbia

The Wall Street Journal and the National Law Journal called John R. Phillips "the nation's premier whistleblower attorney."

The National Law Journal included him in several of its "100 most influential lawyers in America" lists. The lawyers on the list, the National Law Journal said, "have the power to shape public affairs, launch industries, shake things up and get things done." He also has been named several times to Lawdragon's "500 leading lawyers in America" list, which said, "Influential is the word for Phillips, who in guiding the top qui tam practice in the nation has recovered billions under the False Claims Act."

Mr. Phillips worked closely with Congress to revise and strengthen the False Claims Act after his research showed the Civil War law held great potential for fighting fraud against the government. His practice focused on bringing qui tam lawsuits on behalf of whistleblowers after the amended False Claims Act went into effect in 1986.

A nationally recognized authority on whistleblower cases, Mr. Phillips has been a frequent speaker at conferences on the False Claims Act and qui tam lawsuits. He also has co-authored several articles about whistleblowers and the False Claims Act .

In recognition of Mr. Phillips' work with Congress to revitalize the False Claims Act and his success with qui tam lawsuits , the nonprofit group, Taxpayers Against Fraud, awarded him its first Lifetime Achievement Award. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California also presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award "for his remarkable work rooting out corporate corruption and his landmark agreements on behalf of the poor and the powerless."

Mr. Phillips has a long history of involvement in public interest law. He graduated in 1969 from the University of California School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he was an editor of the California Law Review. He then joined the Los Angeles law firm of O'Melveny & Meyers as an associate.

In 1971, he co-founded the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles, which focused on environmental, civil rights, corporate fraud and other issues. He served as its co-director for 17 years before starting his own firm in 1988.

From 1988 to 1993, Mr. Phillips was an appointed member of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. He was appointed in 1997 by President Clinton to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. President Obama appointed Mr. Phillips chair of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships in 2009. He retired from Phillips & Cohen LLP in 2013.

Mr. Phillips is the founder of Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF), a nonprofit, public interest organization that promotes the use of the False Claims Act and its qui tam provisions to fight fraud against the government. He served on TAF's board of directors from its founding to 2013.


Areas of Practice

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


  • University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California - 1969

Published Works

  • "False Claims Can Result in Prison Time, Fines," (Co-Authored with Mary Louise Cohen), Health Risk Management, June, 1997
  • "Failure to Disclose Medicare Overpayments or Accurate Information Can Result in Jail Time for False Claims," (Co-Authored with Mary Louise Cohen), Health Fraud Litigation Reporter, June, 1997
  • "Failing to Report Medicare Billing Errors: A very Risky Business," (Co-Authored with Mary Louise Cohen), New Perspectives (Journal of the Association of Healthcare Internal Auditors), Spring, 1997
  • "Civil War-Era Law Attacking False Medicare Claims," (Co-Authored with Mary Louise Cohen), Healthcare Risk Management, March, 1997
  • "How to Avoid Liability Under the False Claim Act," (Co-Authored with Mary Louise Cohen), American Medical News, February, 1997
  • "The False Claims Act in Practice,", California Lawyer, August, 1991
  • "Changing the Rules to Fight Plunder in Procurement,", The Wall Street Journal, April, 1986


  • Frequent Speaker on False Claims Act and Qui Tam Lawsuits

Honors and Awards

  • "The Nation's Premiere Whistleblower Attorney," The Wall Street Journal and the National Law Journal
  • "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America," The National Law Journal
  • "500 Leading Lawyers in America"
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Taxpayers Against Fraud

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Center for Law in the Public Interest, Los Angeles, Co-Founder & Co-Director

Past Employment Positions

  • O'Melveny & Myers, Los Angeles, Associate, 1969 - 1971
  • Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, Appointed Member, 1988 - 1993
  • President's Commission on White House Fellowships, Appointed by President Clinton, 1997