Britney Spears conservatorship: A breakdown of the massive legal fees the singer must pay

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·9-min read

Britney Spears is spending a fortune to be in a conservatorship.

On the heels of the singer breaking her silence about the Framing Britney Spears documentary, a series of new court filings obtained by Yahoo Entertainment show the star is expected to pay more than $2 million in legal fees for her father alone. A large chunk of that, nearly $900,000, was spent for his legal team to fight her in court — as she tries to oust him as conservator — and in the court of public opinion. The documents also outline Jamie's compensation for the job Britney wants him fired from.

Ahead of the next conservatorship hearing on April 27, which will include an accounting review, documents have been filed detailing how much everyone is getting paid — by Britney — for their roles in her conservatorship, which has been in place since 2008 and has sparked the #FreeBritney movement. Jamie's legal team, comprised of lawyers from multiple firms, is receiving the most, which is notable of course because he's retained them to fight being removed as conservator, per Britney's wishes.

For the time period of October 17, 2020 to February 28, 2021 — the four months in which that fight has played out — Jamie's attorney Vivian L. Thoreen's law firm Holland & Knight charged $821,390.25 in fees and $72,361.16 in costs, totaling $893,751.86. Thoreen, who has given multiple media interviews over the last month to clear up the perception that Jamie is a "villain," gets an hourly rate of $1,090 and provided about 220 hours of work. There are various other members of the firm who logged hours in the case, including a litigation communications strategist — or media handler — who was paid $850 an hour for 172 hours of work.

Singer Britney Spears arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, U.S., August 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
Britney Spears at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York. (Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo)

Thoreen said in her declaration that the money spent on "media matters," including the $146,000 fee the communications strategist received in just four months — was essential due to the "subject of increasingly intense media scrutiny both in traditional news media as well as on social media and also documentary films," referring to Framing Britney Spears, which came out in February. However, Thoreen claimed the money was not to do damage control on Jamie's image, but "in order to maintain the privacy of the Conservatee," Britney.

Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears leaves the Los Angeles County Superior courthouse on March 10, 2008. The divorce between Spears and Kevin Federline and their battle for custody of their children has already cost the singer about a million dollars, Spear's lawyer Stacy Phillips said on March 10, 2008, and called on the presiding judge in the case to limit the allowance Spears has had to give Federline to pay his lawyers to 175,000 dollars, warning she was not an
Britney Spears's father Jamie has been her conservator since 2008 and has maintained that he's always had her best interests at heart. (Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

And that is just part of it. In addition, Jamie — who acts as co-conservator of Britney's estate, overseeing her finances alongside new co-conservator Bessemer Trust — rang up $574,625.19 in fees and $6,788.44 in costs with the Freeman Firm from Nov. 1, 2019 to February 28, 2021. That was for the conservatorship as well as other litigation, including a legal issue with Sam Lufti, who the Spears family accused of drugging Britney prior to her 2008 breakdown. 

Jamie — who refuses to step down despite Britney claiming she's "afraid" of him — also retained the law firm Russ August & Kabat for $412,288.26 of work as counsel for Britney's business entity from April 26, 2019 to Feb. 28, 2021 to "protect Ms. Spears' image and brand, the maintenance of which is vital for the long-term viability of [her] career as a performing artist." (Britney, through her attorney, has said she won't perform again until Jamie is out as conservator. Father and daughter haven't spoken since last summer.)

Watch: Britney Spears 'cried for two weeks' after Framing Britney Spears documentary

Also, Jamie had the law firm Sidley Austin do another $175,541.00 in work for the conservatorship from November 2019 until February 28, 2021. That also included matters pertaining to Lufti as well as representing Jamie "in investigations" and advising him in "litigation arising out of and related to public attacks on the conservatorship, Britney Spears personally, and her business associates and management team, all arising out of the so-called “free Britney” movement," a Sidley Austin attorney stated.

Supporters of the FreeBritney movement rally in support of musician Britney Spears following a conservatorship court hearing in Los Angeles, California on March 17, 2021. - Free Britney supporters of fans of Spears have closely followed her conservatorship case and rallied that the pop singer should be legally allowed to decide her own affairs. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement rally in support of musician Britney Spears following a conservatorship court hearing in Los Angeles on March 17, 2021. (Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition to the more than $2 million dollars Jamie spent on legal, he collected his $16,000 a month salary, or $192,000 a year, as well as was repaid for his $2,000 a month office space. It is the same salary without an increase.

The documents also revealed that Britney's court appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham, III, charged $521,070 in costs for the time period between October 1, 2019 and February 2021. Ingham retained counsel for Britney amid her move to remove her dad and those fees, to the law firm Loeb & Loeb from September 2020 to April 2021, cost $237,761.23.

And Britney's conservator of her person Jodi Montgomery, who took over temporarily in September 2019 and Britney is petitioning to make permanent at the same April hearing, charged $221,090.50 from Nov. 1, 2019 until February 28, 2021. She also spent $65,465 on legal fees and $1,229.17 in costs that Britney must pay. (Bessemer Trust fees were not noted, as the business is new to the role.)

So with at least $2.5 million going out — all paid by Britney — running the conservatorship is a very costly venture. We'd say even more so now that Britney is on an "indefinite" performing hiatus, pending the removal of her father (which Judge Brenda Penny denied last year). However, Jamie's attorney Thoreen has said that he turned around her fortune — from $2.8 million to over $60 million — since he was appointed conservator in 2008. Thoreen also said, thanks to Jamie, Britney has enough money that she doesn't have to work for the rest of her life and she — as well as her two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James Federline — will be set for life if she doesn't perform again.

In Ingham's declaration, he provided a little insight into his relationship with the reclusive star, who's only really seen on social media these days. He said during the time period, the relationships among the parties became more "adversarial" and attempts to mediate were "unsuccessful." He wrote, "It became increasingly apparent that greater transparency was in the best interests of the conservatee," leading to him to oppose sealing certain motions and transcripts — except when it pertains to Britney's health, minor children and career secrets — as well as the closing of the court room. 

Ingham said he confers with Britney regularly in person and by phone. He's also advised on her "several medical issues," her child custody arrangements and "the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on her travel and other activities." He said over this period, Britney's mother, Lynne Spears, also had a more active role, so he "communicated extensively with her and her counsel regarding pending issues to the extent authorized by the conservatee." He also noted Britney was the one who "decided that she wanted a corporate fiduciary as conservator of her estate," which now shares Jamie's role. 

Ingham also said a discharge of petitioner, or freeing her from the conservatorship, "at this time is not appropriate" because he "anticipates that further services will be required" for the star.

Jamie's declaration also detailed his work with the estate — overseeing Britney's investments, reimbursing expenses Montgomery paid for her care, helping the transition of business management team and addressing "continuous security and safety of [Britney], including the security and safety of her children when they are with" her. (Britney's sons were granted a restraining order against Jamie in 2019.)

Explaining some of his legal spending, he wrote, "I worked extensively" with Britney's "team and my attorneys to monitor social media and address negative and potentially destructive publicity, and minimize any harm to [her] brand," he wrote. "In coordination with my attorneys, I also worked extensively to protect [her] brand."

Jamie also noted his intent in staying in the role, writing "I continue to perform services to protect and administer [Britney's] estate in good faith and in her best interests."

Meanwhile, in a new interview, actress Sharon Stone said Britney once reached out to her for help as her life spiraled in 2007 — during her custody battle with ex Kevin Federline and just before the conservatorship was put in place a year later.

“Britney wrote to me a very long and important, poignant letter during a very difficult time in her life — about the time ... when she shaved her head — wanting me to help her," Stone revealed on the Kelly Clarkson Show. "I was in a very difficult time of my life" — as Stone had her own custody battle — "and I couldn’t help myself. But the truth of the matter is we both needed help. She needed help and I needed help.”

Stone went on to say, “The true fact of it is, it’s very hard to be a very successful woman and not have everyone controlling you, taking your finances and handling you. Women, and I'm sure all of the young stars, get handled. You get handled so much..."

Clarkson chimed in, "There's a breaking point."

Stone continued, "There’s a huge breaking point and there’s a point where you get broken. The thing with Britney Spears is so out of control and so awful. I can say certainly it's been out of control and it's been awful more than once in my life and I have certainly had it. It's very complicated to take control of your life. It's very hard to get control of your finances."

Britney recently shouted out Stone and some others stars including Sarah Jessica Parker and Natalie Portman, who she says have supported her.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Britney also used social media to finally speak out about the Framing Britney Spears doc. She said she "cried for two weeks" over the the parts she saw of the film, from the New York Times Presents... series, and was "embarrassed by the light they put me in." She also spoke about being judged, insulted and embarrassed by the media for much of her life.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The accounting hearing will take place on April 27 — and the petition to make Montgomery Britney's permanent health caretaker will be heard at the same time.

Watch: Denise Van Outen and Eddie Boxshall spice up their relationship during cooking therapy

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: