Perhaps the most important element in a successful qui tam case, after the strength of your case, is your choice of attorney.
Not every lawyer knows the intricacies of False Claims Act law. A lawyer that you worked with in other matters will likely be at a severe disadvantage coping with the complexities of qui tam work, and the voluminous case law created over the years. You need a pro – someone who focuses on this narrow area of the law to the exclusion of other practices.
The right lawyer will know which jurisdiction to file the claim in. They are not all the same, and different courts have interpreted the same situation differently.
The right lawyer will be familiar with both federal False Claims Act cases and with cases of fraud against the State of New York.
Don’t go by advertisements. Many firms will be eager to take your case, because the rewards in qui tam cases are substantial. You want the lawyer with the temperament and the track record to succeed.
You want a lawyer who works with a team of government lawyers and investigators. It is possible to see a case through without them, but your chances of success are much greater with the additional power of the government on your side.
A good qui tam lawyer is a bit hungry. He or she strikes while the iron is hot. In order to succeed with your claim, you want to be the first to bring allegations to the fore. If your lawyer dawdles, you lose your place in line.
Finally, you want a lawyer you know you can work with. Qui tam cases take time to resolve, so you will be working with this person for a while.
Look for a lawyer who sees you as a full partner, one who knows that blowing the whistle on colleagues is a very stressful thing to do. Your lawyer should be committed to communicating with you, and to respecting your point of view throughout the case.
So — look for experience, look for a history of success. But also look for a sympathetic human being who knows what you are going through.