Our Attorneys

Robert M. Thomas, Jr.

“I went into the law to try to make a difference in the world. What I love about representing whistleblowers is very similar to what I loved about being an Assistant U.S. Attorney: the ability to have a meaningful role in important conflicts, policy questions, and human endeavors, and to try to bring some reason and compassion – and maybe even some humor – into complex and difficult situations.”

Bob Thomas has been practicing law since 1986 and for the last twenty years has been representing whistleblowers with his friend, colleague, and co-founder, Suzanne Durrell. Mr. Thomas and Ms. Durrell have been recognized throughout the country as a formidable team.  They combine deep technical expertise in the False Claims Act and other whistleblower laws with sound litigation instincts and the seasoned judgment that comes from a combined seventy years of experience in handling complex legal matters in both the civil and criminal arenas. Bob Thomas and Suzanne Durrell were named the 2017 Lawyers of the Year by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund for their successful “careers devoted to fighting fraud.”

Robert Thomas served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland from 1989 to 1997, focusing primarily on the prosecution of white-collar fraud matters and environmental crimes. He was awarded the EPA Bronze Medal for his contribution to the prosecution of the criminal Clean Water Act case of U.S. v. Wilson and IGC, 133 F.3d 251 (4th Cir. 1997), a case of national importance with respect to the enforcement of the Clean Water Act in federally-protected wetlands.

“Bob was personally committed to me as the client, and to the case, throughout the eight years of our journey. He was an effective leader – transparent, supportive, optimistic, decisive, and acting with unfailing integrity. We had, and have, the highest level of trust and respect for each other.”  – Mike Mullen

Starting in 1997 from the private sector, Bob undertook a unique assignment as part of a team of former federal prosecutors to investigate and eradicate mob corruption in labor unions.  He served under the “General Executive Board Attorney” Robert D. Luskin to identify appropriate subjects and to bring internal disciplinary charges and trusteeship actions before an Independent Hearing Officer. This work lasted for a decade, with Bob successfully trying dozens of organized crime cases in labor arbitration proceedings.

Beginning in 2003 and continuing to the present, Bob teamed up with Suzanne Durrell, the former Chief of the Civil Division of the Boston U.S. Attorney’s Office, to represent whistleblowers, believing that their prior prosecutorial experiences as civil and criminal law enforcement attorneys gave them a unique window into how to build successful cases.  The last twenty years have borne out this belief, with a long list of successful results for their whistleblower clients.

Mr. Thomas is a 1985 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University.  Upon graduation from law school, he served as a judicial law clerk for federal District Judge Walter E. Black, Jr., after which he joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling as an associate.  He subsequently joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland in 1989.

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • District of Columbia
  • State of Maryland
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Bob Thomas has for over a dozen years engaged in outside teaching activities, most notably his role as an adjunct faculty member at Boston University School of Law, where he has designed and taught a course on Health Care Fraud and Abuse for more than a decade.  The course covers all the major laws in this field and introduces students to different practical aspects of lawyering in this sector.  The course, now taught by Bob’s partner Erica Blachman Hitchings, has consistently earned high marks from student evaluators, who appreciate the combination of doctrinal coverage with practical lawyering insights.
  • In 2020, Mr. Thomas added a more general whistleblower law course at BU Law called Whistleblower Law & Practice.  And this past year, he began offering Criminal Law for LLMs.  In the fall of 2022 added an additional course on Contemporary Issues of Constitutional Law, analyzing the rapidly changing constitutional landscape as the current Supreme Court impacts a variety of important issues such as voting rights, access to reproductive care, and regulation of weapons.
  • Mr. Thomas has also taught a class on financial literacy to the students of Beacon Academy in Boston and is a regular guest speaker in a class on the Pathways to Justice course at the Belmont Hill School, a course examining issues of racial justice.
  • Civil liberties, history, and constitutional law remain intellectual passions outside of his practice; for the past eight years, Bob has been a member of the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and ACLU of Massachusetts Foundation and is often invited to speak on topics related to civil liberties and constitutional law in ACLU-related venues.
  • Featured Speaker at ACLU Bill of Rights Dinner, sharing speaking engagements with Ambassador Andrew Young and Nicole Hannah-Jones, September 15, 2022
  • Optimal Strategies for Resolving FCA Matters and Qui Tam Lawsuits, ACI False Claims Act and Qui Tam Enforcement, New York, NY, June 22-23, 2022
  • The Modern Relator, Federal Bar Association 2022 Qui Tam Conference, February 23-25, 2022
  • Setting the Record Straight–Fighting Fraud and Representing Whistleblowers, Calvert School alumni, November 9, 2021, 11 a.m.
  • Health Law Careers panel, Boston University School of Law, November 9, 2021, 6 p.m.
  • Criminal Law for LLMs, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA, September 2021 – present (weekly seminar, fall semester)
  • Close Encounters with Whistleblower Law, featured in The Record – News and Stories from BU Law, tells the story how for a class with adjunct professor Bob Thomas, BU Law student Andrew Tran wrote a research paper based on an extensive interview with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg
  • Health Care Fraud, Boston Bar Association White-Collar Crime Conference, February 4, 2021
  • DOJ Enforcement in the COVID-19 Crisis: What to Expect and How to Mitigate Risk, in conjunction with the American Bar Association, a webinar hosted by Charles River Associates, Ropes & Gray, and the Whistleblower Law Collaborative, July 30, 2020
  • Whistleblower Law & Practice, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA, September 2020 – present (weekly seminar, fall semester)
  • Pathways to Justice, Belmont Hill School, Belmont, MA, April 18, 2019 (annual facilitation of class discussion on the Equal Protection Clause, the history of white supremacy, and the role of the judiciary in the racial history of the United States)
  • Compliance Challenges in the Life Sciences Industry, Ropes & Gray, New York City, NY, April 11, 2019
  • False Claims Act, University of New Hampshire Law School, Concord, NH, April 2, 2019 (guest speaker in a health law course, discussing the False Claims Act and whistleblower practice generally)
  • Financial literacy, Beacon Academy, Boston, MA, January – March 2019 (weekly class)
  • Life Cycle of a False Claims Act Suit, Choate Hall & Stewart, LLP, Boston, MA, January 23, 2019 (presentation from the relator’s perspective, with focus on the screening aspects of cases not visible to defense counsel)
  • Whistleblower Practice and the False Claims Act, Bristol Community College, Fall River, MA, November 7, 2018 (appearance on local television broadcast covering the same topic)
  • Constitution Day address, Bristol Community College, Fall River, MA, September 17, 2018 (address to students on key aspects of the U.S. Constitution)
  • False Claims Act, Boston Bar Association’s inaugural White Collar Crime Conference, Boston, MA, January 2018
  • The False Claims Act: Perspective of a Qui Tam Plaintiff’s Lawyer, Ropes & Gray symposium on Hot Topics in Life Sciences: Whistleblower Insights & Trump’s FDA, Boston, MA, May 18, 2017 (joined by Ropes & Gray FCA defense lawyers who shared their insights and reactions)
  • Settlement of an FCA Healthcare Case, American Bar Association’s National Institute on the Civil False Claims Act & Qui Tam Enforcement, Washington, D.C., June 2016
  • Health Care Fraud and Abuse, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA, September 2011 – present (weekly seminar, fall semester)
  • Part-Time Faculty Teaching Award (2022) for outstanding teaching at Boston University School of Law
  • Lawyer of the Year (2017), Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund
  • Super Lawyer
  • Boston Magazine Top Lawyer
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Environmental Protection Agency “Bronze Medal” in April 1997 for “extraordinary dedication, resourcefulness, team effort and service in the investigation and prosecution of cases involving unlawful wetlands activities.”