Intro to Whistleblowing: The Initial Consultation

The decision to blow the whistle on your employer or someone else is not an easy one. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ll need a good partner in the process — a whistleblower consultant who can guide you through the legal steps, ensure your legal protections are respected, and help you put together a convincing narrative.

Usually, when you make contact with a lawyer who is interested in your case, the first step will be a consultation. Here’s what to expect from your whistleblower consultant and how to prepare for that consultation.

Whistleblower Consultant Basics

First, any conversation you have with an attorney with the goal of legal advice or launching a case is confidential, even if the lawyer does not take your case. That includes the consultation itself and any other communication, such as a preliminary phone call (see below). You can share your story in full, and you should be prepared to — the lawyer cannot fairly evaluate your case without knowing all the facts and the parties involved.

Second, many attorneys will begin the process with a phone call to get the outline of your case and determine whether, on its face, it’s something they can handle. They will often want to know the parties involved during that phone call. That information is critical because attorneys cannot take cases that might create conflict with clients they already have. If they don’t know who your likely defendants are, they can’t make sure they don’t have a conflict.

Third, the consultation should be free. Most whistleblower consultants— including the lawyers at Miller Law Group — work on contingency, which means they are paid out of any future recovery. You don’t have to pay anything upfront, and you should not have to pay for an initial meeting.

Finally, you can talk to multiple lawyers. Knowledge and experience are only part of the equation. If you proceed with a whistleblower action, your lawyer will likely be your partner for years to come. At times, when your case is under seal or otherwise protected, they will be the only person you can talk to about the case. You want a whistleblower consultant you feel comfortable with, one whose values match your own.

Preparing for the Consultation

Once you’ve scheduled a time with an attorney, you’ll want to take a few steps to take full advantage of that time.

First, be clear about what you want from the consultation. What do you need to know to feel comfortable moving forward? You may want to make a list of questions to make sure all of your concerns are addressed. Those questions can ask about everything from the attorney’s experience with cases like yours to specific elements of your case.

Second, prepare to tell your story. Here again, some notes may help you. Often, a written timeline can help frame the story. A list of relevant people can help you make sure you don’t forget anyone.

Finally, you should bring with you any documents or physical evidence you’ve acquired. It will be much easier for the attorney to understand what you’re describing if you have an example to point to. If you decide to work with the whistleblower consultant, they can be scanned and retained for the attorney to use in building your case.

Consultation = Conversation

A good consultation is a two-way exchange of information. The lawyer will, of course, share information about the law, how it works, and how they manage cases. You should also be prepared to share your story in full. You may have outlined the basics in a preliminary phone call, but at the consultation, the lawyer will want to hear the whole story.

You should also be prepared for some specific questions about the conduct you observed and why you think it’s fraudulent. The lawyer knows the law; you know your job and how it should be done. Both elements will be needed to construct a convincing case.

You should also be prepared for some questions about you and your background. The lawyer isn’t trying to be nosey; they just need to know about anything that might affect your credibility as a whistleblower. And you should not be afraid to share. A strong case will still be a strong case, regardless of your background. But if your lawyer knows about your past, they can address the issue head-on and defuse it.

Allow plenty of time for this conversation, especially if the fraud you’re reporting is complex or you work in an unusual profession that the lawyer might not know about. At Miller Law Group, we take all the time we need to understand the case and make a clear and honest assessment of it.

Should You Sign With Your Whistleblower Consultant?

At some point in the consultation, you’ll likely be presented with an engagement letter or contract that lays out the details of your agreement with the lawyer. You don’t have to sign it right away, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to. If you’re not sure, or you want to talk to another lawyer first, or you want time to read the agreement more carefully, ask to take it with you and return it later. Some firms will even allow you to e-sign the agreement, so you don’t have to come back to the office to drop it off.

At Miller Law, we work with whistleblowers to help them bring their knowledge of fraud and corruption to the attention of federal and state regulators. We guide our whistleblowers through every step of the process, ensuring their rights are protected along the way.

If you think you have a claim under the False Claims Act or any whistleblower law, contact Miller Law Group for a free consultation.