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5 Things to Consider When Looking for a Wall Street Whistleblower Lawyer
Friday, January 26, 2024

Suppose you work on Wall Street and have discovered indications that an individual or corporation is violating the law. In that case, you can blow the whistle on it by reporting it to law enforcement and bringing it to the eye of the public. Taking the steps necessary to do so, however, can be risky. The best way to ensure the information is brought to light and for you to recover a substantial SEC whistleblower award from the SEC whistleblower program is to hire a skilled and experienced Wall Street whistleblower lawyer.

Here are five things to consider or understand when looking for the right attorney for your needs.

1. Get a Lawyer With Experience Handling Your Types of Claims

A wide range of issues can lead to a whistleblower claim, from environmental violations like the illegal dumping of toxic waste to healthcare fraud claims involving the illegal overbilling of Medicare. While securities fraud and investor fraud are common whistleblower allegations, they are not the only type of claim.

When looking for a whistleblower attorney to help you report fraud or misconduct on Wall Street, you need to make sure that you get an attorney who is experienced in handling the type of whistleblower claim that you want to bring forward. A whistleblower lawyer with extensive experience in the environmental field will not be of much help to you if your claim involves something like accounting fraud.

The best way to ensure that you get the right lawyer for your needs is to look through the prior case results of the whistleblower attorneys or SEC whistleblower law firm in your area. Ignore case results involving drastically different fact patterns or implicating federal agencies other than those regulating the securities industry. Whistleblower attorneys or firms with no track record handling Wall Street cases, or those that explicitly state that they focus on other areas of SEC whistleblower practice, can be disregarded.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of hiring not just a whistleblower attorney but a whistleblower attorney with experience handling Wall Street fraud. An SEC whistleblower claim is highly detailed and conceptual, involving the Securities and Exchange Commission and other complex financial instruments that people outside the industry struggle to comprehend. A lawyer unfamiliar with federal securities laws will struggle to understand SEC whistleblowers' cases, which will make it more difficult for them to advise you on how to proceed and advocate on your behalf.

2. Your Attorney’s Practical Advice May Be Even More Important Than Their Legal Advice

One of the most overlooked aspects of a whistleblower claim is the lengths and risks you may have to go through to develop your case before presenting it to law enforcement. During this preliminary investigation, you must gather evidence to build your case. That means making tough decisions that will have to balance your interests in strengthening your case and not blowing your cover as a whistleblower.

Unless you have blown the whistle on misconduct before, these decisions can be tricky and nearly impossible to make with any certainty.

An experienced Wall Street whistleblower lawyer will have represented people just like you in the past or may have appeared in the National Law Journal. They have helped whistleblowers in similar cases understand the risks and the potential rewards of the SEC's whistleblower program. Their input can help you make an informed decision about moving your case forward in ways that do not unnecessarily imperil your future in the securities industry.

3. Be Prepared for Workplace Retaliation

Ideally, you will be able to gather enough information about the alleged misconduct to support a case that persuades the federal government agency to take it over, all without being discovered as a whistleblower by the target of your investigation.

However, there is always the genuine possibility that the target of your investigation learns that you are gathering evidence against them.

Even though it is prohibited by federal law, whistleblowers still frequently face workplace retaliation if their employer is the target of the scrutiny or is related to the entity that was.

SEC whistleblower clients must be aware of this possibility and take precautions before it becomes a reality. The best way to do this is to have employment lawyers on standby if you are revealed as a whistleblower and face workplace repercussions. While the blowback can cause significant stress, the legal protections in this situation are very strong. You will typically have a good case for wrongful termination.

4. Whistleblower Awards Can Be Substantial

Yes, the risks of conducting an investigation and blowing the whistle on misconduct on Wall Street can be substantial. But that is also why federal agencies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) provide significant financial rewards for whistleblowers who bring information that leads to a settlement or a civil penalty for fraud. Depending on the case, the SEC whistleblower awards may range between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions recovered.

5. Contingency Fees and Covered Expenses are Normal

One important thing for potential whistleblowers to know about hiring an SEC whistleblower lawyer or law firm to represent them is the fee and expense arrangement. What you get offered can tell you a lot about your case.

Broadly speaking, the norm for whistleblower cases is for your SEC whistleblower attorneys’ fees to be paid on a contingency fee basis and for the costs of litigation to be borne by the law firm. This means the firm will pay for the frequently substantial litigation costs, though they will often recover them from the case’s winnings. It also means that you pay nothing in SEC whistleblower lawyers’ fees unless and until your claim recovers something. If you talk to multiple law firms and they demand payment upfront, it generally means they do not think your case is winnable.

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