Madoff Trustee Fees: Hours Game

Chidem Kurdas

Next week a hearing is to be held about the fees and other expenses of the group of lawyers affiliated with Irving Picard, the government-appointed trustee of the Madoff estate. For the three months ending July 31, they billed about $32.2 million, including sundry costs.

Against critics and objectors, the trustee points to the 10% discount he and his law firm kindly give off their hourly rate. But what drives the total compensation is the number of hours billed—unlike the hourly rate, there is no set limit on the number of hours.

For the period in question, the lawyers say they provided 82,039 hours of services.

To get that into perspective, consider that it comes to 911.5 hours a day, including weekends, for a 90-day period. Yes, there’s an army of attorneys and paralegals, but it still sounds like they are frantically busy day in and day out.

I wonder how many of those hours were spent toting up their own compensation? With so many billable hours to keep track of, they surely earn millions of dollars just doing that. I’m not kidding, estate lawyers can bill for the hours they spend figuring out their hours.

To be sure, the latest bill is not the largest these lawyers submitted in recent years—for a four-month period last year, they went for $48 million. The total, since the appointment of the trustee after Bernard Madoff confessed in 2008 to running a Ponzi scheme, is expected to exceed $1 billion. (For related issues, click this link.)

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2 Responses to “Madoff Trustee Fees: Hours Game”

  1. JP Morgan Madoff Payment: Who’s a Victim? | HedgeFundSmarts Says:

    […] scheme trustees and lawyers–see Ponzi Regulation. Over the years they notched up many tens of thousands of billable hours thanks to their exclusive control of […]

  2. Favored Madoff Victims Near Half Mark | HedgeFundSmarts Says:

    […] The trustee, Irving Picard, is himself is a former SEC official. He’s gone through a special sort of revolving door. He and his allies have found legal Nirvana in post-fraud bankruptcy. […]

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