Britney Spears's mother, Lynne, has issues with how her ex-husband, Jamie, is spending their daughter's money in his conservator role.
Ahead of Britney's next conservatorship hearing on April 27, Lynne's attorney Gladstone N. Jones, III filed papers Monday objecting to legal fees Jamie racked up, claiming they "utterly excessive" and "served no benefit to" Britney. Specifically, Lynne takes issue with the nearly $900,000 Jamie spent with the law firm Holland & Knight, which he retained amid the singer's attempt to remove him as co-conservator of her estate.
We recently broke down the more than $2 million in legal fees Jamie incurred in his role from 2019 to 2021, which Britney has to pay as conservatee. Lynne, who's taken a more active interest in the conservatorship amid the #FreeBritney movement, says her beef is with $893,751.41 billed by Jamie's attorney Vivian L. Thoreen, with Holland & Knight, for just four months of work from October 17, 2020, to February 28, 2021. The costs include legal work, but also "media matters," as Thoreen gave a string of interviews to clear up the perception that Jamie's a "villain," a narrative amplified by the Framing Britney Spears documentary. Thoreen billed $239,800 worth of work over four months. The remaining $600,000-plus was for additional members of the firm logging hours in the case, including a litigation communications strategist, or media handler/spinner, who billed $146,200.
Lynne's objection calls for "fees and expenses charged for certain services provided by H&K" to be "examined" by the judge "in camera" — a legal term that means in private. And if "they are determined to be improper or excessive," they should be stricken from the bill, or if already paid, reimbursed to Britney's estate.
Lynne's attorney argues that the charges are "procedurally improper," claiming some H&K staffers "were not approved by this Court to work on the matter at hand." Further, the charges were "substantially improper" because some weren't for legal work, but "instead largely constituted a 'national media tour' … to promote [Thoreen] and/or combat media coverage that cast [Jamie] in a negative light."
The docs state: "There was no value whatsoever" to 39-year-old Britney "having her Conservator's attorney … appear on a national media tour." It "provided no benefit" to the star, who pays all the bills for her conservatorship. And it claims Britney's money was "wasted" on this "self-promotional national media tour."
Further, Lynne — who is an "interested party" in Britney's conservatorship — thinks Thoreen's media blitz on Jamie's behalf "is directly contrary to [Britney's] wish for privacy." The largely reclusive pop star, who has said she won't perform again until Jamie is out as conservator, "has been under a media microscope, and the last thing she wishes, desires, or derives any benefit from is [Jamie's conservatorship] attorney spending [Britney's] money to promote herself in the same media that scrutinizes everything that happens to [Britney]."
In addition, Lynne's legal team argues that Holland & Knight's fees are "utterly excessive," saying in just four months they are "more than all of the other law firms combined." (As noted in our breakdown of Jamie's legal fees, while running the financial end of her conservatorship, he also incurred $581,413.63 with the Freeman Firm (from Nov. 1, 2019, to February 28, 2021), $412,288.26 with Russ August & Kabat (April 26, 2019 to Feb. 28, 2021) and $175,541 with Sidley Austin (November 2019 to February 28, 2021).
Lynne says if it's proved that the fees aren't "'necessary and performed in good faith for the benefit of the [Britney],' those costs should be disallowed and immediately repaid to [Britney's] estate."
It's unclear if Jamie himself — who earns a $192,000 salary as co-conservator of Britney's estate — would have to repay them personally.
His attorney, Thoreen, has not yet responded to Yahoo Entertainment's request for comment. She's previously said that Jamie, who has acted as Britney's conservator since 2008, "has diligently and professionally carried out his duties as one of Britney’s conservators and his love for his daughter and dedication to protecting her is clearly apparent to the court."
Lynne and Jamie — parents of three — divorced in 2002 after 30 years of marriage which Britney once said was "the best thing that's ever happened to my family. My mom and dad, bottom line, do not get along. When I was a baby, they argued." The couple briefly got back together in 2010 but it didn't last.
Lynne has sided with her daughter amid the star's bid to remove Jamie as conservator. In November, her attorney Jones called on Jamie to relinquish his role saying the relationship between father and daughter — who haven't spoken since last summer — is "toxic." Jones added: “It has broken Lynne’s heart that things have come to this point."
The April 27 hearing is gearing up to be an important one. Lynne's objection is part of the overall accounting review that is supposed to take place. Also, Jodi Montgomery, who has been the temporary conservator of Britney's person, is supposed to be officially appointed. An unspecified petition and motion will also be heard.
Over the weekend, Britney made rare comments addressing her mental health and well-being. She said she received a lot of questions asking if she is OK. The mom of two replied, "Yes, I am totally fine. I'm extremely happy. I have a beautiful home. Beautiful children. I'm taking a break right now because I'm enjoying myself."
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