Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with whistleblower lawyer Michael Filoromo of Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP to discuss his life and career.
AALM: What drew you to a career in the law?
MF: I did not decide until after I graduated from college to pursue a career in law. I had many divergent interests, but the consistent thread was a desire to use my talents and abilities to help people, particularly those experiencing struggles and adversity, whether physically, mentally or economically. I had always enjoyed writing, philosophy and crafting arguments, and after briefly working in healthcare, I decided to make the leap to law school. I am grateful every day that I did. It has been a more personally rewarding, more intellectually engaging career than I imagined.
AALM: Tell us a little about your philosophy when it comes to your practice. Do you have a personal motto?
MF: My philosophy is always to be empathetic to my clients. Many of them are going through incredibly stressful times in their lives. Most have lost their jobs and income, many have families to support, and all have bills to pay. These individuals often need not only legal advocacy skills, but also practical counsel — and simply to have someone listen to and validate their experiences. Being empathetic in my practice dictates my conduct. It means being responsive, being compassionate, and being patient, and demonstrating by my actions that I am on my clients’ side and here to help.
AALM: What drew you to your current firm?
MF: I knew little about employment law going into my second year of law school, and even less about firms and attorneys in the field. Through an Equal Justice Works job fair, I had the good fortune of securing an interview with Katz, Marshall & Banks, and the endorsement of Magistrate Judge John Facciola, of the District Court for D.C., for whom I had interned the previous summer. As I researched the firm and partners, I realized how well-known and highly regarded the founding partners were, and what important and notable work they had done. I was excited to join and learned a tremendous amount as a summer associate, and I jumped at the job offer I received.
Twelve years later, I am proud to be a partner at the firm doing important work with colleagues I genuinely like and admire.
AALM: As technology changes the practice of law, how are you adapting? Do you believe these changes are good or detrimental?
MF: To most lawyers it has — or should — become clear that being “tech savvy” is not optional, but often ethically required. The need to preserve electronic evidence in all its forms, and to protect confidential information and communications from inadvertent loss or cyber-theft, is now central to the practice of law. The changes are demanding, but necessary.
Other changes I believe are very positive for my practice and my clients. Our practice is nationwide, but our offices are in the mid-Atlantic. The costs involved in meeting repeatedly face-to-face, or attending mediations, can easily become prohibitive for clients who are out of work. While the COVID-era has been devastating in many respects, it has forced lawyers to adopt video conferencing and other technology as better alternatives both to travel and to phone calls. I believe these positive changes will continue after the pandemic is under control.
AALM: What are you most proud of professionally and personally?
MF: Professionally, I am most proud of being on the cutting edge of developments in whistleblower law, and becoming recognized for my work in this space. I am proud of representing one of the first few dozen individuals to receive an SEC whistleblower award, and one of the first to receive a favorable determination from OSHA in an aviation whistleblower case.
More generally, I am proud any time I have the opportunity to represent people who have spoken truth to power, often at their personal and professional peril, often to protect the health, safety, and finances of individuals they will never meet.
Personally, I am most proud to be a husband to a wonderful wife, and a parent to three young kids in whom we have tried to instill the values of inclusivity and kindness (and who seem to be getting the message so far).