Whistleblower Attorney Fees
It Costs Nothing Out-of-Pocket to Hire a Whistleblower Attorney at Oberheiden P.C.
If you are thinking about blowing the whistle, you probably have lots of questions—and this probably includes questions about whistleblower attorney fees. If you hire an attorney, will you have to pay out-of-pocket? If so, how much will you have to pay; and, is it even worth hiring a lawyer to represent you?
At Oberheiden P.C., we do not charge our whistleblower clients any lawyer fees out-of-pocket. From your initial consultation through the final resolution of your whistleblower complaint (if you choose to come forward), you will not have to pay anything for our representation. As we explain below, our legal fees—if any—will be paid by the government out of any funds it is able to recover.
Attorney Fees in Whistleblower Cases Under the False Claims Act
Many federal whistleblower cases fall under the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act prohibits government contractors, healthcare providers, and other individuals and entities from submitting “false or fraudulent” claims to the federal government. Thus, the False Claims Act applies in cases involving things like:
- Government contract fraud (i.e., overbilling or substituting inferior products)
- Medicare and Medicaid fraud
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) fraud
- Procurement fraud
- Tricare fraud
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are entitled to a percentage of any amount the government recovers based on the information they provide. This percentage can vary depending on how a case progresses—including whether the government decides to intervene—and federal agencies and courts consider a list of factors when deciding what constitutes a reasonable “relator” award.
It is common practice for whistleblower lawyers to represent their clients on a continency-fee basis. With contingency-fee representation, you pay nothing out of pocket. If your lawyer helps you obtain a relator award from the federal government, your attorney will receive a percentage of the award as compensation for his or her services. This percentage will be disclosed to you at the outset of your engagement.
When a whistleblower lawyer represents you on a contingency-fee basis, this means that the attorney’s financial interests are fully aligned with yours. Your attorney only gets paid if you do, and his or her compensation is not directly linked to the number of hours he or she devotes to your representation. As a result, contingency-fee representation is ideal for most whistleblowers, as it not only allows them to come forward without incurring any out-of-pocket costs, but it also allows them to work closely with their attorneys throughout the process without any financial concerns.
In addition to contingency fees, whistleblower attorneys can also secure statutory legal fees from defendants under the False Claims Act. In explaining relators’ right to financial compensation, the statute states, in part:
“Any [relator] shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses which the court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. All such expenses, fees, and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.”
As a result, along with receiving a portion of any relator compensation awarded, whistleblower attorneys can also collect statutory hour-based legal fees in successful False Claims Act cases. This helps ensure that whistleblowers’ attorneys will receive reasonable compensation for their services regardless of how much the government recovers (subject to the statutory limits that apply). When the government intervenes under the False Claims Act, the whistleblower’s lawyer does not have full control over how the case progresses or whether the government decides to settle—and, if so, for how much. The statutory fees provision in the False Claims Act is intended, in part, to compensate for this fact.
Attorney Fees in Whistleblower Cases Under Other Federal Laws
Along with the False Claims Act, there are a handful of other federal statutes that provide protections—and the right to financial compensation—to whistleblowers. When representing whistleblowers under these statutes, lawyers generally provide contingency-fee representation as well.
Here too, the purpose of contingency-fee representation is to give whistleblowers the opportunity to come forward without incurring any direct out-of-pocket costs in order to do so. Whistleblowers play an important role in the federal government’s fight against fraud, waste, and abuse, and their ability to come forward without concerns about costs or retaliation is essential to the success of the federal whistleblower system.
Pro Bono Representation for Federal Whistleblowers
Our whistleblower attorneys may also provide pro bono representation in select cases. Sometimes, whistleblower compensation will not be available, but it will still be well worth exposing fraud, waste, or abuse to the federal government.
For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) only pays whistleblower awards in cases involving recoveries of $1 million or more. Similarly, federal government employees may not be eligible for compensation awards—even though they may be entitled to protection from retaliation as whistleblowers. If you need to blow the whistle, we encourage you to contact us regardless of the amount at issue or your employment status, and we will go over all of your options so that you can make informed decisions about your next steps.
What You Can (and Should) Expect from Your Legal Representation as a Whistleblower
With all of this in mind, is it worth the time and effort to hire a whistleblower attorney? While hiring a whistleblower attorney should cost you nothing out-of-pocket, you will still need to be prepared to work closely with your attorney throughout the process.
The simple answer is that there are several benefits to speaking with a whistleblower attorney regardless of your individual circumstances. Here is what you can expect from us if you choose Oberheiden P.C. to represent you:
- We will help you make informed decisions. As a whistleblower, you need to ensure that you are making informed decisions every step of the way. Our attorneys can provide you with the information, insights, and advice you need to feel confident as you move forward.
- We will protect your identity. We will protect your identity by all means available. Aside from disclosing your identity to the federal government (which is required in certain circumstances), we will not disclose your identity under any circumstances—and we will work with the government to ensure that your name is kept confidential.
- We will work with federal agents and prosecutors on your behalf. Federal agents and prosecutors often rely heavily on whistleblowers; and, as a whistleblower, it is important to ensure that you are communicating as effectively as possible. Our attorneys will work with the government on your behalf throughout the course of our representation.
- We will help you protect your rights as a whistleblower. While public and private employers are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers, employers still choose to retaliate illegally in some cases. If you face retaliation after blowing the whistle, we can take all legal action necessary to protect you.
- We will help you secure your whistleblower award (if applicable). If you become eligible for a whistleblower award, we will work with the government to secure your award on your behalf. Once we have secured your award, we will deduct our whistleblower attorney fees in accordance with the terms of our engagement agreement.
FAQs: Whistleblower Attorney Fees & Working with an Attorney to Blow the Whistle
What is “contingency fee” representation for whistleblowers?
With contingency fee representation, whistleblowers pay nothing out-of-pocket for their attorneys’ legal services. If their attorneys help them secure whistleblower compensation, their legal fees are then calculated as a percentage of their compensation award.;
Do I have to pay my attorney if I don’t receive a whistleblower award?
No, with contingency-fee representation, you don’t have to pay your attorney if you don’t receive a whistleblower award. Your attorney’s right to payment is contingent upon whether you receive compensation for blowing the whistle.
Do all whistleblower attorneys provide contingency fee representation?
No, not all whistleblower attorneys provide contingency fee representation. Some charge hourly fees or use a hybrid fee approach. Before you hire a whistleblower attorney, you will want to make sure that you are clear on what fees (if any) you will have to pay.
What percentage will my whistleblower attorney receive?
Contingency fees in whistleblower cases vary. When you hire a whistleblower attorney to represent you, your attorney’s contingency fees should be clearly explained in your engagement agreement.
Do all whistleblower attorneys charge the same legal fees?
No, not all whistleblower attorneys charge the same legal fees. Again, when you hire an attorney to represent you, your legal fees (if any) should be clearly disclosed at the outset of your representation. When you sit down with an attorney at Oberheiden P.C. for the first time, your attorney will explain our firm’s fee structure in detail.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Next Steps with a Whistleblower Attorney
Are you thinking about blowing the whistle? If so, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a whistleblower attorney at Oberheiden P.C., please call 888-680-1745 or contact us confidentially online today.