Thomas thinks he can help upend the notion that, whenever a whistle-blower acts, “the company crushes them and now they live in a motel eating cat food.” He concedes that sometimes “there are bad outcomes,” but says that his work “is about levelling the playing field.” By any measure, his practice has been a success. For the first five years, it ran at a loss, but he was confident enough about its prospects that he renegotiated with the firm, taking a smaller salary in exchange for a bigger piece of the action should he ever make a profit. “I think now they would probably prefer the old deal,” Thomas told me, flashing a smile. Because he works on contingency, his fee is a significant chunk of any rewards that his clients receive. When the S.E.C. announced, in 2018, that in the Merrill Lynch case it would pay two awards, totalling eighty-three million dollars, it was reported that Labaton Sucharow could make more than twenty-five million dollars. Thomas expanded his team, bringing on two partners, Rich Levine and Michael Stevenson, who are also former S.E.C. officials. He is not given to personal extravagance, but after that win he traded in his fifteen-year-old Toyota for a Tesla.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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