Don’t Let the Lawyers Throw You Under the Bus

Beware: Company Lawyers Can Throw You Under the Bus


At the end of the day, company lawyers serve the interests of their company. Employers have gotten away with arguing that that disclosures to these lawyers are covered under attorney-client privilege, and a whistleblower going after a lack of action by the compliance team may not be able to use their disclosure as evidence. The New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics released an opinion warning employees of this dynamic, and laid out a script for those calling up the company hotline.

That is why author Stephen Kohn advises those with insider knowledge to contact their own counsel when weighing whether or not to go internal first. The fact of the matter is, most report internally, and most never get a response – they just paint a target on their back. So it’s almost always never good to report internally…one should really just keep quiet and speak with an attorney. If the company offers you a lawyer once they begin to be investigated, play along so you don’t stick out. Your independent counsel can advise you as to how to go about the investigation that you initiated.

Practice Tips

Donna Boehme

Jeffrey Eglash

Michael D. Greenberg

Jacelyn Jaeger

Michael Volkov

If a whistleblower is acting in the capacity of a confidential informant, are they allowed to attend attorney-client meetings held by the company. The short answer is yes, but there are restrictions, see:

The leading Supreme Court case on the issue is;

In Weatherford the Supreme Court explained that a confidential informant would be put in a position of unmasking him or herself if the informant refused to participate in a meeting with attorneys, if asked to do so by the target of the investigation.

According to the Court, prohibiting informants from participating in such meetings “would require the informant to refuse to participate in attorney-client meetings, even though invited, and thus, for all practical purposes, to unmask himself.”

Ethics Opinion 269:

New York Rules of Professional Conduct, based on the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The Model Rules have been adopted, in whole or in part, and sometimes in variation, as the rules of professional conduct for attorneys in forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and four of the five inhabited U.S. territories.

Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics and Health Care Compliance Association:

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee provided strong testimony opposing efforts to require employees to communicate with corporate compliance programs, and pointed out the conflicts of interest in these proposals:

Statement for the Record by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Hearing on ‘Oversight of the False Claims Act,’ April 28, 2016.”

“It doesn’t take a pig farmer from Iowa to smell the stench of conflict in that arrangement.” — Senator Charles Grassley on General Counsel’s running compliance programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Order Your Copy Today!

All purchases or donations proceeds go to support the National Whistleblower Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting whistleblowers.

What's Inside

This books covers all federal and state laws regarding whistleblowing, including protections, rewards, and procedures for whistleblowing.

Meet the Author

Stephen M. Kohn is considered the world’s leading authority on international whistleblower law, and behind some of todays modern whistleblower rules.

Introduction: The Revolutionary Roots of Modern Whistleblowing

Law Library

The Law Library is a free companion to the Rules for Whistleblowers, complete with relevant whistleblower cases and important links and resources.

Speaking Engagement

Stephen Kohn enjoys speaking to universities of all sizes, students and professionals, the media, general public, and government officials.

Shipping is to the United States Only

For international orders, please contact