Choosing a law firm to represent you in a qui tam (whistleblower) lawsuit will be one of the most important decisions affecting the outcome of your qui tam case. The internet is a good tool for getting information about lawyers. You should be aware, however, that some websites misrepresent law firms' experience and success in the qui tam area. Here are some issues to consider:
- Success with qui tam (False Claims Act) cases: Make sure the law firm has had experience and success with qui tam cases. Some law firms' websites claim that the firms have won large cases but fail to mention that the cases were not federal False Claims Act (qui tam) cases. Ask for specific examples of the firm's success under the False Claims Act and how much their qui tam cases have recovered.
- Attorneys' experience with whistleblower cases: Does the law firm have a staff of lawyers experienced with representing whistleblowers on qui tam lawsuits? Just as you wouldn't hire a cardiologist to do brain surgery, you wouldn't hire a personal injury lawyer to handle a qui tam case.
- The law firm's area of expertise: Some law firms have websites designed to make it appear the firm specializes in representing whistleblowers, but their experience is actually in other areas. The False Claims Act is a very complicated law, and a misinterpretation of its provisions could be harmful to your case.
- Lists of False Claims Act cases: Are the qui tam cases listed on a law firm's website ones that the law firm filed and litigated? Some firms list sample False Claims Act cases as if they were their own, when in reality they are not.
- Is it a law firm or a referral service: Referral companies have websites that make them look as if they are law firms. Those companies take cases then sell them to law firms willing to pay a fee. Make sure you are hiring the person who actually will work on your qui tam lawsuit.
Look on the website for the names of the lawyers or the law firm. If there aren't any specific attorneys listed, that is a strong indication it's a referral service - not a law firm. Another red flag is the absence of a physical address on the site. If it is a mailbox number, then it's likely to be a referral service. For instance, one website claims to represent corporate whistleblowers. But there aren't any attorneys listed on the site and the address given is for a mailbox at a UPS Store.
Location: Qui tam lawyers can represent whistleblowers all over the country. Any lawyer who's considering taking your case should offer to pay your travel costs to meet with him or her. Law firms with offices in Washington, D.C. have some advantages, due to the proximity to the U.S. Department of Justice's headquarters, which tends to handle the larger qui tam cases.
- Experience working with the U.S. Department of Justice: The chances of winning a whistleblower lawsuit are much greater if the government joins it. Find out what the law firm did in previous qui tam cases to convince the government to join its cases and what the results were.
- The law firm's resources for qui tam lawsuits: False Claims Act cases can be very expensive. There are many out-of-pocket expenses, from the costs of filing papers to hiring consultants to do analyses and substantiate allegations. Oftentimes a qui tam case requires the attention of multiple lawyers at the same time, so there should be other attorneys available to help with the case.
Phillips & Cohen is the nation's most successful law firm representing whistleblowers and one of the few that specializes solely in whistleblower cases. Our attorneys have received many accolades for their work on behalf of whistleblowers, such as:
- "Hot List" of the Top 20 plaintiffs' law firms in the U.S. for 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012 (National Law Journal)
- "Best Lawyers" list for 2011 for Washington, DC (Washingtonian magazine)
- California Lawyer of the Year for 2010.
- "Winning Attorney" for 2008 (National Law Journal)
- "500 Leading Lawyers in America" for 2008 (Lawdragon)
Qui tam cases brought by our attorneys have resulted in more than $7 billion in civil recoveries and related criminal fines. Our whistleblower clients have received rewards totalling over $730 million.
We have set several records for individual whistleblower cases, including:
- The largest two healthcare fraud settlements ever (major components of GlaxoSmithKline's $3 billion settlement and Pfizer Inc.'s $2.3 billion settlement).
- The largest amount ever paid by a defense contractor in a qui tam case ($325 million -- Northrop Grumman).
- Largest settlement ever paid by a medical lab company for a faulty product ($302 million -- Quest Diagnostics).
Phillips & Cohen's attorneys work solely on cases representing whistleblowers. Most of them have spent the past decade specializing in whistleblower cases. Our qui tam attorneys have represented whistleblowers in 24 states. Phillips & Cohen has its main office in Washington, DC, which enables us to work closely with officials and lawyers at Justice Department's headquarters, where most of the case-planning and decision-making occurs. We also have an office in San Francisco.
Phillips & Cohen is committed to providing whatever resources are necessary to win a qui tam case for its whistleblower clients. To win a record-breaking settlement with HCA, Phillips & Cohen assembled a litigation team with five other law firms and spent close to $30 million in legal and accounting resources.
If you would like Phillips & Cohen to consider handling your potential qui tam case or have any questions, please contact us.