Qui Tam Lawyers – What Are They And What Should You Look For When Hiring One?

Qui Tam lawyers are those who specialize in cases brought under the federal False Claims Act by private individuals (“whistleblowers”) on behalf of the United States Government who provide private and direct information against a person, company or other entity that has defrauded the government. If you believe you have such a case, or if you have information on fraudulent practices that cost the government money, here are some tips on hiring the right attorney:
  1. Experience counts: Make sure the law firm has had experience and success with Qui Tam cases. Ask for specific examples of the firm's results under the False Claims Act and how much their Qui Tam cases have recovered.
  2. Experience with “Whistleblowers”: Be certain the firm has handled whistleblower-type cases if that’s the type of case you believe you have. Just as you wouldn't hire a dermatologist to perform heart surgery, you wouldn't hire a personal injury lawyer to handle a whistleblower case. You will also want to check out that the firm can provide assistance should issues of retaliation and harassment arise as the result of your actions.
  3. Request a List: Get a list of the Qui Tam cases the firm has handled and litigated and make sure the specific attorney’s name and the outcome of each case are provided. Be sure to hire the attorney who has been successful, not one of his associates.
  4. Location, location, location: In this day and age of the Internet and electronic communication, it is fine that Qui Tam lawyers can represent whistleblowers all over the country. Any lawyer who's considering taking your case, however, should offer to provide you with transportation to meet with him or her. Keep in mind that no matter where you are, law firms with offices in Washington, D.C. certainly have some advantages, due to the proximity to the U.S. Department of Justice's headquarters, which tends to handle investigations in the larger Qui Tam cases if the government gets involved in the case.
  5. Ever worked with the U.S. Department of Justice? The chances of winning a whistleblower lawsuit are much greater if the government joins the lawsuit. Try to 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. Note, however, that just because the government doesn’t join in the case, or the Department of Justice’s investigation is not favorable to the case, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has no merit. In the majority of Qui Tam cases, the government doesn’t join in after conducting its own investigation.
  6. 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 cost of filing papers, to hiring consultants, to discovery, to performing analyses, all in the effort to prove your case. Qui Tam cases often require the attention of several lawyers at the same time, so be sure to ask about the availability of other attorneys to help with the case.
  7. Paying your attorney: In virtually all Qui Tam cases, the attorneys are paid on contingency from the proceeds when the case is won; if it’s lost, they take nothing at all. Be suspicious if you are asked to pay the attorney’s fees up front or in any fashion other than by contingency.

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