Educating whistleblowers and assisting them in finding competent legal assistance is a top priority of the National Whistleblower Center. NWC helps whistleblowers exercise their rights in the following ways:
- educates and trains potential whistleblowers through workshops, reports and regular postings to our website, blog, and social media channels;
- assists them in finding a whistleblower attorney; and
- supports high-impact whistleblower litigation.
How does NWC assist whistleblowers with finding an attorney?
NWC provides assistance through its partnership with an independent public interest law firm, the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund (“Fund”). Whistleblowers can fill out a secure intake form that allows whistleblowers to submit basic information about their cases on a confidential basis. The intake form, and all communication with the Fund, are protected under the attorney-client privilege.
The Fund contracts with an outside experienced whistleblower law firm whose attorneys are licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia. Attorneys from this law firm review every intake and make all decisions regarding the intakes. This review is conducted free of charge on a pro bono basis.
Notice: The Trustees of the Fund are not involved, in any way, with the assessment of intakes. They do not make any decisions related to any of the intakes. All intakes decisions are made by the attorneys with whom the Fund has contracted to process them.
Please understand that you are not being represented until you have a signed representation agreement with an attorney. You are welcome and encouraged to continue to try to locate an attorney while the Fund is reviewing your case. In some cases, the relevant statute of limitations provides a narrow time frame for filing with the appropriate court or agency. Thus your rights may potentially be foreclosed if your legal filing is delayed.
Some of the attorneys to whom NWC and the Fund refer cases have agreed to donate to NWC of up to15% from attorney fees they collect from representing a whistleblower. This donation must come strictly from the attorney fees obtained by the attorney. The whistleblower-client cannot be charged for this donation, nor can the amount of a reward obtained by the whistleblower cannot be reduced in any manner based on this donation. The scope of the obligation to pay this donation is strictly between the attorney and NWC or the Fund. Under no circumstances whatsoever will any whistleblower be asked to make this donation.
How does NWC support high-impact whistleblower litigation?
In a limited number of cases, NWC may determine that the success of a case will be critical for strengthening whistleblower protections and combatting corruption. In this event, NWC may elect to donate staff time and money to support the case.
Working on these high-impact, NWC-supported cases provides three unique benefits to whistleblowers and the cause of whistleblowing:
- We recruit top attorneys from leading private and nonprofit law firms to represent the whistleblower;
- The law firms typically offer their services to whistleblowers with no upfront payment of fees or expenses, and charge contingency fees that are significantly below the market rate (Contingency fees are fees charged only if the whistleblower secures a financial reward); and
- If the whistleblower prevails, an important precedent is often set that furthers the cause of whistleblowing. The law firms donate a percentage of the attorney fees earned from the case to the National Whistleblower Center to advance its mission of whistleblower protection.
Although it is not a law firm and does not provide legal services, NWC supports high-impact whistleblower cases with communications and policy work. The National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund serves as the NWC’s attorney in these cases.
NWC takes a “campaign approach” to these selected cases, mobilizing its grassroots supporters as well as its bipartisan allies on the Hill and within agencies to call attention to the myriad benefits the cases provide to the public. It also works to strengthen and defend the whistleblower laws on which the cases depend.
An example of how NWC assists with communications is its work supporting an anonymous whistleblower challenging Facebook’s deception of shareholders and others regarding terror and extremist content on its website. In May 2019, NWC worked with the Associated Press to produce a hard-hitting story on a pending whistleblower petition before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to help the whistleblower increase the visibility of their case before the SEC. The Associated Press also published an update in September 2019 following a supplemental filing.
An example of how NWC provides policy support is its work in Congress to address delays in tax fraud whistleblower cases. In July 2019, the Taxpayer First Act was signed into law and included anti-retaliation protections proposed by NWC for tax fraud whistleblowers who file claims under the IRS whistleblower program. The Act also included measures proposed by NWC that improve IRS communication with tax whistleblowers about the status of their submission. NWC had long championed these provisions, and the passage of the Act marked a success for all tax fraud whistleblowers.
Notice: The information contained in this Web site is provided for informational and/or educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter. Read the full disclaimer here. The Fund is managed independently from NWC. NWC has no responsibility for actions taken by the Fund.