Stephen M. Kohn
Stephen M. Kohn is one of the nation’s leading advocates for corporate and government whistleblowers, specializing in Qui Tam/False Claims Act, Dodd-Frank Act SEC whistleblower claims, IRS whistleblower claims and whistleblower retaliation litigation. His record of winning whistleblower cases, at trial and on appeal, dates back to 1984. Many of his court victories have become landmark precedents in modern workplace law, establishing the employee’s right to free speech under the First Amendment. A respected scholar as well as a litigator, he has testified in Congress on behalf of whistleblowers and worked with the Senate Judiciary staff to draft corporate whistleblower protections under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. He is the author of the first legal treatise on whistleblowing and is the world’s most published author on whistleblower protection.
Mr. Kohn’s major contributions to whistleblower law and protections include:
- Obtaining the largest reward ever granted an individual under U.S. whistleblower reward laws and first major award granted under the IRS rewards program ($104 million dollars).
- Successfully represented first nationally recognized FBI whistleblower, causing President Clinton to order the Attorney General to establish whistleblower protections for all FBI employees.
- Argued case establishing nationwide precedent under the First Amendment recognizing the right of federal employees to publicly blow the whistle on their employing agencies.
- Chief attorney in nationally precedential cases establishing strict rules prohibiting settlement agreements restricting the right of employees to report safety violations to government regulators.
- Represented whistleblowers in numerous qui tam federal contracting or whistleblower reward cases resulting in billions of dollars in recoveries for the United States.
- Obtained first-ever ruling restricting the right of federal agencies to monitor the emails of their employees (i.e. the White House and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel directive to all federal agencies prohibiting interception or monitoring of whistleblower disclosures made to the Office of Inspectors General).
- Recommended language to strengthen whistleblower protections for corporate employees incorporated into the Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes Oxley Acts. Presented key proposals directly to all five SEC Commissioners that were ultimately incorporated into the final whistleblower-reward rules approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Successfully advocated for key reforms protecting federal employees incorporated into the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.
- Represented top FBI laboratory official who “blew the whistle” on forensic misconduct within the FBI crime lab. Disclosures resulted in numerous reforms, including the accreditation of the FBI crime lab, the re-opening and/or review of thousands of criminal cases tainted by fraudulent laboratory procedures and the release of persons improperly convicted of crimes.
- Represented top-ranking FBI Unit Chief in proceedings before the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General documenting systemic violations of the Patriot Act’s National Security Letter provisions.
Mr. Kohn has represented several clients involved with high-profile cases, including the World Trade Center bombing cases, the Oklahoma City bombing case, the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and Linda Tripp in her successful lawsuit against the federal government for illegally releasing her work record. Mr. Kohn is co-founder and serves as Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center and a Trustee of the National Whistleblower Legal Defense & Education Fund. When Northeastern University awarded Mr. Kohn the prestigious Daynard Public Interest Fellowship, they described him as a “social justice path-breaker” and “distinguished practitioner of public interest law” who serves as a role model “demonstrating how legal skills can be used effectively and creatively to make the world a better place.” He is currently a part-time lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law. From 1984 to 1988, Mr. Kohn served as Adjunct Professor and Clinical Director of the groundbreaking whistleblower rights clinic at the Antioch School of Law, and Director of Corporate Litigation at the Government Accountability Project. While still a law student, Mr. Kohn served as a judicial intern to the Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.