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6 Tips for Selecting a Florida Whistleblower Attorney
Thursday, December 14, 2023

You have uncovered signs that another person or company is violating federal laws in Florida. After digging around a bit more, the signs have only gotten stronger. What you find is disturbing, but you also know that taking any action could lead to grave consequences for you.

Now is the time to find a whistleblower attorney.

Florida whistleblower lawyers represent people in your circumstances as they investigate and then disclose evidence of wrongdoing to the federal government law enforcement agency that has the power to prosecute the perpetrators. Experienced whistleblower lawyers have guided numerous people just like you through this incredibly complicated and risky process under the federal False Claims Act and other applicable laws.

Here are six things to keep in mind as you look for one that fits your needs.

1. Understand Which Federal Agency Would Investigate Your Claim

One of the first things to know about your case is who would prosecute it. In some cases this is obvious, but not always.

For example, if you are blowing the whistle on tax fraud, then the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would likely hear your case, while if your case involves investments and securities, it would be the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). However, if it involves healthcare fraud, it could be any of the following, depending on the circumstances:

It is extremely important to remember, when doing this and any other research related to your case, to only use your personal devices and to take other privacy precautions when online.

2. Look for a Whistleblower Firm With Experience Dealing With This Agency

Once you have a good idea of which federal agency would handle your case, look through the case results of some whistleblower firms that have caught your eye. Look for results that specifically deal with the federal agency that would have jurisdiction over your case.

Taking this step is important because whistleblower laws are often legally different from one another based on the subject matter at issue. Small distinctions can drastically alter the trajectory of your case. You want a law firm that is not just experienced with whistleblower cases. You want one with experience handling your type of whistleblower case- whether that is qui tam lawsuits or other types of whistleblower claims.

Furthermore, there are also practical differences in whistleblower claims or qui tam cases based on which agency would intervene. You want a Florida whistleblower lawyer or law firm who is used to dealing with this particular federal law enforcement agency and knows the federal programs that offer whistleblower protections to best protect you.

3. A Prior Career Within the Agency is Important

Also look at the biographies of the lawyers at the firm. If you are blowing the whistle on misconduct by, say, a defense contractor and you see that one or more of the whistleblower lawyers at the firm used to work at the Department of Defense (DOD), that should move the firm closer to the top of your list for two reasons.

First, it indicates a close familiarity with how the particular agency works. The lawyer may even still know some of the law enforcement personnel who would be in charge of vetting your case to determine whether the agency will intervene. If not, they will still have a solid understanding of what the agents are looking for in a whistleblower claim.

Second, it is a sign that the lawyer will likely be intimately familiar with the subject matter of your case. Whistleblower cases are notoriously detailed, with factual evidence that frequently requires expert witnesses to explain it to a jury, should it go to trial. If your lawyer used to work in the agency that would handle your case, he or she would likely bring a deep understanding of the field with them.

4. Big Law Firms are Generally Better

Whistleblower claims typically go through two stages. First, you and your legal team investigate the case and present it to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to hear it. That agency can either agree to intervene or decline to do so. If they intervene, then your case gets much easier because the agency will take over much of
the investigation.

If they do not intervene, though, the second stage of your case becomes far more difficult. You and your law firm will have the option of filing the lawsuit on your own and pursuing the case in court. This would require you and your legal team to conduct the potentially massive investigation on your own, without the help of the federal agency’s experienced investigators.

For this reason, smaller whistleblower law firms tend to struggle. Once the government has declined to get involved, these smaller firms may be unable to pursue the case all the way to the end. Not only do they have to commit time and resources that they may not have; these cases are also expensive to pursue and it is the law firm that will be covering those costs up front.

Many whistleblowers have hired law firms with only a few lawyers in them, and ended up regretting it.

5. Law Offices in Florida and Washington D.C. Can Help

Another factor to consider is whether the law firm has offices near you, in Florida, as well as in the nation’s capital.

Both are preferable.

The local office makes it much more convenient to meet with your legal team – something that will happen numerous times as your investigation continues. While your firm should cover your travel costs, you will not get the travel time back.

The Washington D.C. office is an important foothold near the federal law enforcement agency that could hear your case. Having a Florida law firm that is also a Washington insider could be important.

6. Your Firm Should Take Your Future and Your Privacy Seriously

As Dr. Nick Oberheiden, founding partner of the national whistleblower law firm Oberheiden P.C., often stresses, “Whistleblowers are putting a lot on the line in order to bring misconduct into the daylight. In some of the most important cases, the revelations can be earth-shattering and can create lots of enemies for the whistleblower. A whistleblower firm needs to take that seriously and do all that it can to protect their client, including by giving them the tools and advice that they need to reduce the odds that they get caught while in the middle of their investigation.”

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