This is the first in a series of five posts about the Relator’s Interview. To start with the obvious, let’s talk about what exactly IS the Relator’s Interview. And at the risk of becoming philosophical, let’s start with what the Relator’s Interview is NOT.
The Relator’s Interview is NOT the pre-filing disclosure, although the two may be related. Before filing a qui tam case, would-be Relators are required by statute to disclose all material information to the government. The methods of making this disclosure vary by attorneys, by the preference of the different districts of the U.S. attorneys’ offices (“USAO”), and by circumstance. But even when pre-filing disclosures include in-person meetings, such a meeting is no substitute for the Relator’s Interview.
The Relator’s Interview is when the Government team gets the chance to walk through the written disclosure materials and the complaint with the relator.
After a qui tam case is filed and served on the local USAO and the Attorney General, then the government will decide whether the case will be handled by Main Justice (in D.C.), the local USAO (called a “delegated” case), or some combination of the two (“jointly handled”). After that decision, the case will be assigned to an Assistant U.S. Attorney (“AUSA”) who will head the investigation. This AUSA will then reach out to us to schedule the Relator’s Interview.
So, in short, the Relator’s Interview happens after the Government’s investigation team has been assembled, and hopefully after the team has had the chance to review the materials provided so that they can ask good questions. During that time, the Government asks Relator for clarification, for more detail, and perhaps asks more questions about avenues to investigate.
The Relator’s Interview usually lasts between half a day and a full day, although I have been in some that lasted multiple days, and a few that were only a few hours long. It’s sort of like a long job interview with a panel of interviewers. No worries, we will be with you the whole time!
Stay tuned for Part II: What’s the purpose of the Relator’s Interview?