It goes without saying that a relator will need legal representation in a Qui Tam case. But, what is the purpose of this representation? What is the role of the lawyer and what is he or she supposed to do? To some, these may seem like strange questions to ask. After all, the role of the lawyer is obvious: to win a judgment in a case or procure a settlement. Granted, that is most definitely the prime goal of the attorney but the role of the attorney is much more multifaceted. It is important to understand the scope of a lawyer's role in a Qui Tam case because it will be through understanding this role that a relator can have a solid working relationship with an attorney. Obviously, an improved relationship will increase the odds of a positive outcome.
An attorney needs to expertly determine whether or not a case has merit. If the case is incredibly weak and potentially impossible to win then it probably should not go forward. An experienced and qualified attorney will have the knowledge necessary to advise the client of the actual merits of the case.
The attorney also needs to be aggressive in pursuing the case. Now, this does not mean that the attorney needs to be belligerent or heavy-handed. It simply means that the attorney must act expeditiously and quickly on all matters related to the case.
The attorney must also make sure the case is filed in the correct court. Depending on the type of case, certain courts will have jurisdiction on the case while others will lack such jurisdiction. Clearly, the attorney must file the case in a court that possesses proper jurisdiction. In not, the results may prove disastrous.
A lawyer must also advise on potential retaliatory actions that may be committed against a whistleblower. Also, the lawyer should be able to refer a client to another qualified attorney in the instance of wrongful termination and any subsequent lawsuit.
The attorney must also file cases timely. There are statutes of limitations to contend with and a lawyer must be sure these statutes do not expire. Also, the attorney must act quickly so that another individual does not become the first to file the case. This would nullify any other Qui Tam legal action on the same case.
An attorney should also steer a relator towards any helpful Qui Tam resources. This way, the relator can perform personal study and research into various aspects of Qui Tam provisions and the False Claims Act. This will greatly aid in educating the client in regards to the proceedings they are initiating.