Two weeks ago, I wrote a little something about angles and issues when lawyers function as whistleblowers. It is now a bit late on Friday, but, by way of follow-up, it does seem worthy of note that on Monday the jury in the case of the ex-GC of Bio-Rad claiming whistleblower status awarded him almost $8 million, including $5 million in punitive damages. As the ABA Journal online article points out, thanks to provisions of Dodd-Frank (which like seemingly everything else may or may not survive with the new administration), the award will actually climb to almost $11 million when the back pay portion is doubled.
The article also raises an interesting wrinkle in the case believed to have played a sizable role in the outcome – the fact that metadata in a document was able to reflect that an unfavorable performance review with a date prior to the GC’s termination had actually been created a month after the GC had been terminated.
Lawyers are often at risk of getting tripped up and having acts of wrongdoing revealed by the growing digital trail that exists in modern law practice, but this offers an example of at least one lawyer that appears to have been vindicated based on the digital trail left by others.
Some lawyers, however, can get themselves involved in wrongdoing where it doesn’t take digital evidence to bring them down. One such example from this week involves a lawyer sort of literally engaged in the polar opposite of whistleblowing — the story of this now-former BigLaw lawyer who got arrested, wearing a wig and operating under a pseudonym, trying to sell a sealed whistleblower complaint to a company facing federal investigation. The lawyer in question had previously been with the Department of Justice. on the civil side, in the commercial litigation branch up until April 2016 when he left for private practice. The payoff that this lawyer was willing to risk it all for was $310,000. Admittedly not a small sum by any means, but a far cry from $11 million.
Finally, I had hoped in this update to also be able to say a bit more about the D.C. disciplinary stuff that I mentioned in my prior post that seemed pretty Draconian, but I still haven’t had the chance to read all the items I wanted to read about the disciplinary proceedings against the two lawyers (one a law professor) who helped or advised Joanna Koeck, so that will have to wait a bit longer.