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William Bourdon -- The Lawyer

Posted on December 21, 2015 by Teri Sprackland

William Bourdon has made a name for himself among whistleblowers. For those in France, he is the go-to guy for legal representation.

Bourdon is currently representing both Hervé Falciani and Antoine Deltour, the SwissLeaks and LuxLeaks whistleblowers, respectively. Although France is providing safe refuge for both men, legal protection there for whistleblowers is not well developed as a legal principle, according to Bourdon and members of the European Parliament advocating for greater protection at the EU level.

Bourdon has consistently sought to represent those in conflict with governmental entities. A member of the Paris Bar, he also argues cases before the International Criminal Court. He has represented the two French citizens among the Guantanamo detainees. He is part of the legal team representing Edward Snowden. He has sought reparations for victims of genocide and crimes against humanity in Africa, from Rwanda to Chad and the Congo.

In 2005 he negotiated a settlement with the French oil company Total for €5.2 million for his Burmese clients. He founded the nonprofit organization Sherpa, whose stated goal is to protect and defend victims of economic crime.

Bourdon has written a book about whistleblowers, Petit Manuel de Désobéissance Citoyenne ("A Little Handbook of Civil Disobedience," published by JC Lattès in 2014). He has referred to Henry David Thoreau and the development of the rights of whistleblowers in the 19th century, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi as guardians of the world's public conscience. Now, he says, the number of whistleblowers is growing dramatically. He has testified at the United Nations about the need to develop better legal protection for those whistleblowers who act on conscience and in the public interest.

Bourdon is a past president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the oldest international human rights organization in the world, with 178 member organizations in 100 countries. He is a graduate of the law faculty of the Sorbonne and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, which is most often referred to as "Sciences Po." He maintains a private practice in Paris, Cabinet Bourdon & Forestier, dealing primarily in criminal, financial, and communications law, as well as inheritance and international civil litigation matters. The practice is a partnership with his wife, Léa Forestier.


Teri Sprackland, Tax Analysts.
E-mail: teri.sprackland@taxanalysts.org