Whistleblower 101: What You Need to Know

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: February 25, 2021
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  • Definition of a whistleblower
  • Private vs Public Sector laws and protections
  • Federal and State Protections
  • Common law protections
  • First amendment and whistleblowing/role of the press
  • The lawyer as whistleblower
  • Costs and benefits of whistleblowing
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: February 25, 2021


Our panel of experts will discuss policy implications including the benefits and costs of whistleblowing, First Amendment issues, and the role of the press. The panel will also examine the role of the lawyer as a whistleblower.

This program was recorded on February 25th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Jennifer M. Pacella

Assistant Professor, Business Law & Ethics Department
Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

Jennifer M. Pacella is an Assistant Professor in the Business Law and Ethics Department of the Kelley School of Business.

Prior to this appointment, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Law at the Zicklin School of Business of Baruch College, City University of New York. Professor Pacella’s scholarship examines issues of whistleblowing law, corporate compliance, organizational governance, and business and professional ethics, and she has published several academic articles in prestigious law journals and law reviews to date on these subjects.

Professor Pacella has organized various whistleblowing events in which whistleblowers have visited academia to speak to students and faculty about their courageous experiences. She has also received several awards for her scholarship from the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB) and has held Chair and President positions of the ALSB’s Ethics Section and the Mid-Atlantic regional organization of the ALSB, respectively.

Prior to entering academia, Professor Pacella served as a law clerk to the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and also practiced securities and financial law as an attorney for several years in the New York City office of Shearman & Sterling LLP.

John McKnight

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

John McKnight is a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, a national law firm with offices in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland, and a Co-Chair of the Firm’s Whistleblower & Qui Tam Practice Group. He received his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, M.F.A. from the New School, and B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Mr. McKnight is experienced in the representation of clients in qui tam lawsuits under the U.S. False Claims Act and works on sealed and unsealed qui tam whistleblower cases involving fraud against the federal and state governments. He was an integral part of the litigation team that ultimately secured an $11.3 million settlement in U.S. ex rel. Cox v. Smith & Nephew, the first Trade Agreements Act settlement involving a medical device company. In addition to the Trade Agreements Act, Mr. McKnight works on cases involving the SEC Whistleblower program, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Price Reduction Clause, the Price Adjustment Clause, Medicare procurement guidelines, and numerous other fraud-based statutes.

Mr. McKnight is a member of the Maryland Bar Association, and speaks intermediate-level Mandarin Chinese.

Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, Mr. McKnight was an Associate at McKnight and Kennedy, LLC in Silver Spring, Maryland, which he joined following his graduation from the University of Maryland School of Law.

While at the University of Maryland, Mr. McKnight interned with the Human Rights Team at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and with United States District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. (Retired) of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge William Jackson, and Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson of the United States District Court of the District of Columbia. He also participated in the University of Maryland’s International and Comparative Law Clinic in China, where he worked with actors in the Chinese microcredit industry.

Mary Foster

Occasional Professor
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Mary Foster is a semi-retired professor at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. She earned her JD from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1984.

Wendy Muchman

Harry B. Reese Teaching Professor of Practice
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Wendy J. Muchman joined the law school faculty in 2014 as a Lecturer. She was formerly an Adjunct Professor of Legal Ethics at Northwestern from 2000 to 2014 and has taught Legal Ethics courses at other Chicago law schools. Professor Muchman currently is the Chief of Litigation and Professional Education at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois. She investigates and prosecutes lawyer disciplinary cases, including In re Rinella, 175 Ill.2d 504, 677 N.E.2d 909 (1997). Her job responsibilities also include supervision and training of all litigation attorneys and staff at the ARDC. She regularly lectures and presents workshops regarding professional responsibility and disciplinary law to various bar association groups, law firms, judges and law schools.

Professor Muchman serves as a faculty member for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) for the regional and national trial advocacy, deposition and National Organization of Bar Counsel programs. She serves as an assistant team leader for the NITA Trial Advocacy Midwest Regional Program. In 2013, she was selected to participate as a fellow in the National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professional Responsibilty. In 2012, she was elected member-at-large to the Council of the American Bar Association Government and Public Lawyers Division where she stills serves. Between 2009 and 2011, she served as the Vice-Chair, then Chair, of the Chicago Bar Association Committee on Professional Responsibility. Prior to 1989 when she started her employment at the Commission, Professor Muchman litigated in the state and federal courts. Areas of practice included insurance litigation, civil rights, age discrimination and aviation defense work. Professor Muchman received her JD from DePaul University College of Law and her BA from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.

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