What is a Whistleblower Attorney

What is a Whistleblower Attorney?

A whistleblower attorney represents someone who alleges that a defendant has broken the law and harmed the public, often through fraud. In the United States, whistleblower attorneys can file “qui tam” suits under federal statutes (such as the False Claims Act). The suit remains a secret until the government has completed its investigation of the whistleblower’s allegations. When the lawsuit helps the government recover money, an attorney can ensure that the whistleblower receives an award for helping the government.

A whistleblower attorney generally:
  • is licensed to practice law in at least one state (or D.C.)
  • signs an attorney-client agreement with a whistleblower who, for example, has witnessed a company take unfair advantage of a government program
  • drafts a complaint that explains how a defendant violated the law
  • compiles evidence that will help prove the complaint’s allegations
  • can find local counsel in the state in which the lawsuit is filed
  • files a complaint “under seal” (meaning that it remains a secret)
  • cooperates with the government to investigate the claim
  • can litigate the case if it goes to trial
  • can assist the whistleblower in claiming a reward of a portion the money recovered.
Whistleblower Scenarios

Whistleblowers often work in industries in which the line between ethical business practices and fraudulent activities can be blurry, especially when they involve government programs and contracts. Employees often find themselves in precarious positions, discovering instances where their employers may be defrauding the government or misusing government programs, such as Medicare. After such discoveries, the right course of action isn’t always obvious.

Federal Contracts

Consider employees working for a company that has a federal contract for construction services. These employees often have firsthand insights into the inner workings of their organizations and may come across instances of fraudulent billing, cost inflation, or false reporting to meet contract requirements. For instance, engineers working on defense contracts might discover that their employer is overbilling for materials or services, potentially jeopardizing national security while lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains. An engineer might decide to become a whistleblower.


Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, are often exposed to situations where Medicare fraud occurs. In some cases, a hospital might engage in billing schemes, upcoding procedures, or providing unnecessary services to maximize reimbursement from government healthcare programs. Employees can be put in an ethical quandry as they grapple with the obligation to ensure patient care while confronting the systemic abuse of taxpayer funds. Blowing the whistle might seem dangerous because the employee fears that they could lose their job.


Employees in financial institutions or accounting firms also encounter instances of fraud related to government subsidies, tax credits, or loan programs. For example, bankers may witness mortgage lenders falsifying income documents to qualify borrowers for government-backed loans, leading to a surge in subprime mortgages and subsequent economic turmoil. Accountants may uncover discrepancies in financial reports submitted to regulatory agencies, indicating fraudulent manipulation of data to obtain government grants or contracts.

Whistleblower Attorneys

Whistleblowers from various industries play a crucial role in exposing fraudulent activities. These individuals often face immense pressure and even retaliation from their employers for speaking out against wrongdoing. A whistleblower attorney can help protect a whistleblower from punishment for speaking out. A whistleblower’s courage in coming forward can lead to significant legal actions against fraudulent companies, saving taxpayers millions of dollars and preserving the integrity of government programs.

To learn about a historical example, the ACLU has an article about Frank Serpico, a New York City police officer who became a whistleblower who exposed corrupt practices in the Department in the 1960s.