Think of the Relator’s Interview as a big job interview, the kind with a whole panel of people who will ask questions.
Most of the time, there will be one designated Asker-of-Questions. That person is usually the AUSA, but sometimes is an investigator, depending on who has the most experience with your type of case, who has the most time to prepare, and so on. That person will start by introducing everyone and who they represent. S/he will then spend some time explaining to you the “rules of the road” for a relator – don’t investigate on your own, the existence of the seal, and so on. (A good, experienced qui tam attorney will have long ago made you aware of these issues.)
At that point, you will be asked questions about your work history and credentials. Remember, during the whole interview, one goal is to determine whether you will make a good witness. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t ever overreach, either!
Next, you will be taken through the Complaint, often page by page, to make sure that the Government understands exactly what is meant by what is written, as well as the basis for the things you have said and any corroborating evidence. If we have produced documents on your behalf, you may be asked to explain them to the team. Sometimes you will be asked questions about the witnesses we have suggested – how they might react to being approached, whether they are friendly, and so on.
Throughout the interview, you may be asked to follow up on questions or issues. No worries, we will keep a list and ensure that everything is completed.
With all of this, you can see why it is hard to predict how long a Relator’s Interview will last. The more prior experience you have, the longer your complaint, the more complicated the fraud, and the more documents you have produced will all affect the length of time you are there. Normally, we are done before a late lunch, but I usually tell my relators to take a whole day off of work, because even if you get out quite early, you are going to be pretty tired after being in the hot seat all day!
Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, Part V: Frequently Asked Questions