Image of How do I choose the best whistleblower attorney?

How do I choose the best whistleblower attorney?

Tips for Choosing the Best Whistleblower Attorney for Your Whistleblower Award or Whistleblower Retaliation Claim

SEC whistleblower lawyersThere is no shortage of whistleblower law firms and whistleblower attorneys to choose from. Whistleblowers seeking representation should carefully evaluate their options to ensure that they are securing an experienced and effective team for their whistleblower reward or whistleblower retaliation claim. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a whistleblower law firm.

For a free confidential consultation with our leading whistleblower attorneys at Tier-1 Law Firm Zuckerman Law, call us at 202-262-8959 or contact us here.

Experience Matters

There are many types of whistleblower rewards and retaliation laws that protect whistleblowers and incentivize whistleblowing. Many of these laws have complicated procedural requirements that warrant retaining an experienced whistleblower attorney to successfully navigate through the maze of federal and state whistleblower laws to achieve the best outcome.

Moreover, the whistleblower award programs at the SEC, CFTC, IRS and DOJ each have distinct rules and procedures that dictate: (1) how to submit a tip; (2) the percentage of the whistleblower award or relator share; (3) how the agency will communicate with whistleblowers and their attorneys after submitting the tip; (4) whether the whistleblower can remain anonymous; and (5) how to appeal an award determination.

For example, the rules and procedures for SEC whistleblowers are vastly different than those for IRS whistleblowers. The SEC Whistleblower Program allows whistleblowers to report anonymously if represented by an attorney and offers whistleblowers an award of 10-30% of the total sanctions imposed as a result of their tip. An experienced SEC whistleblower lawyer can assist a whistleblower to leverage the SEC whistleblower rules effectively to potentially increase an award by millions of dollars.

Also, the SEC often works directly with whistleblowers (unless they report anonymously) and their attorneys to understand and investigate the fraud. If the SEC denies an award, whistleblowers may file an appeal in an appropriate United States Court of Appeals within 30 days of the determination.

In contrast, the IRS Whistleblower Program does not allow whistleblowers to report anonymously and offers whistleblower awards of 15-30% of tax proceeds collected as a result of their tip. And the IRS Whistleblower Office has very limited communicate with whistleblowers,  which has been a recent criticism of the program. If the IRS denies an award, whistleblowers may file an appeal in the United States Tax Court within 30 days of the determination.

In sum, it is critical to hire counsel with the knowledge and experience to maximize your likelihood of recovering a whistleblower award. Some aspects of our experience that set us apart include:

  • Matt Stock is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and former KPMG external auditor.  As an auditor, Mr. Stock developed an expertise in financial statement analysis and internal controls testing and fraud recognition.  He uses his auditing experience to help IRSCFTC and SEC whistleblowers investigate and disclose complex financial frauds to the government and develop a roadmap for enforcement attorneys to take an enforcement action.  Matt has been interviewed on CNBC, quoted extensively about whistleblower rewards in the media, and is the lead author of SEC Whistleblower Program: Tips from SEC Whistleblower Attorneys to Maximize an SEC Whistleblower Award.
  • Eric Bachman and Jason Zuckerman served in senior positions at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency charged with protecting whistleblowers in the federal government.  They also served on the Department of Labor’s Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor to improve OSHA’s administration of federal whistleblower protection laws.
  • Jason Zuckerman was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2018, 2017, 2015, 2009, and 2007 selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® in the category of employment law (2011-2018), and selected by his peers to be listed in SuperLawyers (2012 and 2015-2018) in the category of labor and employment law.
  • Eric Bachman has substantial experience litigating precedent-setting employment cases.  His wins include a $100 million settlement in a disparate impact Title VII class action and a $16 million class action settlement against a major grocery chain.  Having served as Special Litigation Counsel in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and as lead or co-counsel in numerous jury trials, Bachman is trial-tested and ready to fight for you to obtain the relief that you deserve.
  • The firm has published extensively on whistleblower rights and protections, and regularly speaks nationwide at seminars and continuing legal education conferences.  We blog about new developments in whistleblower law at the Whistleblower Protection Blog.

See our article in Forbes:  One Billion Reasons Why The SEC Whistleblower-Reward Program Is Effective.

Service Matters

sox whistleblower attorneys

Before hiring a whistleblower law firm, consider the law firm’s reputation and approach to customer service.  This may include reviewing a whistleblower lawyer’s Avvo rating, Martindale Hubbell Peer Review rating, client testimonials, awards and other recognitions.  Jason Zuckerman was recently awarded an Avvo Client Choice award based on client reviews.

Next, whistleblowers should assess the attorney’s responsiveness. If an attorney takes a considerable amount of time to respond to an inquiry about representation, whistleblowers should expect the same (if not longer) response time if they hire that attorney.

Importantly, the success or failure of many whistleblower claims will hinge on timing. For example, a whistleblower’s claim may be barred by the statute of limitations if the whistleblower waits too long to file the claim (e.g., the statute of limitations for a SOX whistleblower claim is just 180 days). Moreover, a SEC whistleblower will not be eligible for an award if someone else reports the violation to the SEC first.

Finally, whistleblowers should make sure that they are hiring the law firm or attorney that will actually be working on their claim. There are many lawyer referral companies (not law firms) that sell cases to law firms for a fee.  When you call a whistleblower law firm, ask if you are speaking to an attorney.

We are proud of our commitment to exceptional client service, and we respond to all inquiries within 24 hours.

Results Matter

Most importantly, whistleblowers should review the law firm’s and attorney’s track record of success. Whistleblowers should not hesitate to ask hard questions that may call into question an attorney’s experience – or lack thereof. We are one of the few firms that have successfully represented whistleblowers at the SEC.  In addition, our attorneys have worked on successful qui tam False Claims Act cases and achieved substantial recoveries for whistleblowers in retaliation cases.

Recently Washingtonian magazine named two of our attorneys to its list of Top Whistleblower Attorneys.

Zuckerman Law – Leading Whistleblower Law Firm

To discuss your potential whistleblower claim, call the leading whistleblower lawyers at Zuckerman Law for a free, initial consultation at 202-262-8959.  Download our free ebook about the SEC whistleblower program here.

SEC Whistleblower Program Tips from SEC Whistleblower Attorneys to Maximize an SEC Whistleblower Award

And click below to download our free guide to the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower law titled Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection: Robust Protection for Corporate Whistleblowers:SOX whistleblower protection

Top-Rated Whistleblower Lawyer Client Reviews

We pride ourselves not only on the results we achieve, but also on ensuring that we provide the highest level of customer service and that our clients are kept informed of all developments in their case and play an active role in every key strategic decision in their case.  Every case is unique and every client has unique objectives that will govern how we litigate a case.

The following five client reviews are from senior corporate officials, including a CFO at a public company, that were provided through Avvo.

  • “As a finance exec, I have spent my career working closely with hundreds of lawyers. On balance, Mr. Zuckerman is the best lawyer I have ever encountered. Although he runs a small law firm, I watched as he ran circles around multiple lawyers both in-house and at a large, nationally-recognized firm. Although the evidence in this matter was compelling, the other side did not have the self-awareness to understand what that meant, making for an almost impossible negotiation. Each time I was convinced we hit the final road block, Mr. Zuckermanwould pull a rabbit out of his hat to progress the negotiation. He was responsive, available 24/7, and operated not only as a world class attorney, but as an “ad-hoc therapist” in what is necessarily a stressful process. He is the only lawyer I’ve ever encountered that not only has the tools to go up against the largest law firms in the nation, but also truly cares about his client, and will do the right thing to defend his client at all costs.”
  • “I selected Jason to handle my case after consulting with three other lawyers because of his extensive SOX experience and negotiation skills. My decision paid off as he easily surpassed all of my expectations. He quickly analyzed the merits of my case and aggressively engaged my former employer to reach a favorable settlement, avoiding years of potential litigation. He was responsive, professional, ethical and a great advocate on my behalf. I truly believe that I could not have found a better lawyer to represent my interests. He would be the first person I would recommend if a colleague or friend were to ever need similar services. Put simply, Jason is a top notch lawyer who works tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome for his clients. It’s easy to see why he is regarded as an expert in the field.”
  • “Jason Zuckerman is the most focused, thoughtful and aggressive attorneys I have ever known, let alone had the pleasure to have on my side in a highly complex legal case. He brought well-honed legal insights and a rapid pace to our legal preparations. He forcefully brought those preparations to the opposing side, which gave them little choice but to engage with us until a positive settlement was reached. In addition, we found Jason to be extremely responsive at every step, even if it required working past midnight. His character is beyond reproach and his dedication through the entire process was unwavering. If I ever need someone in my legal court again, I won’t hesitate for even a second, before I seek Jason’s support.”
  • “Jason is the consummate professional when it comes to SOX retaliation claims. He is, without question, one of the most deeply knowledgeable, technical, and astute attorneys in this very specialized body of law. During one of the most difficult times in my professional career, Jason not only provided exceptional legal guidance, but equally as important, he provided emotional support that was vital to my family and me.

 Jason ran circles around the “major national law firm” team that was assigned to defend my employer. In fact, Jason made them look silly at times. Jason always advocated my best interests, not his own. 

Jason is not only an exceptional attorney who helped my family to achieve a favorable outcome, but he is a friend. I’ve worked with major law firms throughout my career and when it comes to SOXand employment law matters, there is not a finer, more talented attorney than Jason Zuckerman.”
  • “Jason did an exceptional job in quickly understanding the intricacies of my case, grasping not only his field of expertise of employment law, but also the violations of law and SEC Regulations that were central to my dispute. The overall strategy he utilized insured that opposing counsel was challenged and made clear that this case would simply not proceed based on a timetable convenient to them. Jason is thorough, accurate and seemingly working at all hours based on phone calls and correspondence. Fortunately Jason has a very down to earth personality, understands issues readily and can convey in understandable language current “legal” circumstances and probable outcomes. I would easily and thoroughly recommend Jason for issues related to a Sarbanes-Oxley or employment related dispute.”

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Jason Zuckerman, Principal of Zuckerman Law, litigates whistleblower retaliation, qui tam, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. He is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2015 and selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® and in SuperLawyers.

Matthew Stock is the Director of the Whistleblower Rewards Practice at Zuckerman Law. He represents whistleblowers around the world in SEC, CFTC and IRS whistleblower claims. He is also a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and former KPMG external auditor.