Britney/Shakespeare — Kill Lawyers
In a stunning development, Britney Spears and Bill Shakespeare have something in common — they both want to kill all the lawyers.

The custody case is back in court this morning, and Brit’s lawyer will make a frontal attack on the lawyers on both sides of the case. We know the firm that just quit the case — Trope and Trope — has billed Brit more than $600,000 in legal fees over the last five months they repped her. And K-Daddy’s lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, has billed half a mil over the last four months. The court has already ruled Brit has to pay MVK’s “reasonable” attorney’s fees.

We’re told it’s going to get hot in court. There’s been a theory for a long time — some divorce lawyers use the pain of a split to fleece clients and keep the dispute alive when it should be settled. Whether true or not in this case, we’re told that’s what Brit’s lawyer will argue.

One of the points will be that multiple lawyers on both sides have appeared for every hearing and it’s just to jack up the bill.

Stay tuned…



UPDATE: Britney Not Happy Paying Kevin’s Bills
Stacy Phillips told Commissioner Scott Gordon that Kaplan is entitled to $150,000 — $175,000 tops — for his legal bills over the last four months. Kaplan told the Commish he wants between $400,000 and $500,000.

The court has already ordered Brit to pay Kevin’s “reasonable” attorney’s fees. Phillips argued K-Fed is not that hurtin’ for cash — noting he goes to parties and throws around $2,000 tips, spends $20,000 in jewelry and uses his credit card like a motha.

Kaplan told the judge he and his partner, Jim Simon, bill around $600 an hour, claiming, “I believe we are under market for the package you get when you hire our firm.” Phillips blanched, claiming it was totally unnecessary for both lawyers to attend all the court hearings.

The judge just threw reporters out of the courtroom and closed the hearing.



UPDATE: Commish to Brit – I’ll Get Back to You on That
Commissioner Scott Gordon has decided he wants to take some time to rule on the battle over attorneys fees, saying he will take it all under submission.

The commish did rule on visitation — no changes were made.

K-Fed was in attendance for the hearing, answering just a couple of questions, giving brief answers.

The next hearing on custody is scheduled for May 6.



UPDATE: Britney’s Money Matters Hit Court
The kids are all right—but Britney Spears’ bank account is another matter.

Attorneys for the beleaguered pop star have wrapped up the first of two scheduled court dates Monday—a custody hearing addressing whether she is being overcharged for legal fees. (Matters related to her conservatorship are due to be dealt with this afternoon.)

While Spears was neither present nor required at the hearing, unlikely allies Jamie Spears and Kevin Federline were both on hand for the proceedings, held as always in the cozy confines of Los Angeles Superior Court.

During the morning session, Stacy Phillips, the latest custody attorney to make it through the revolving doors of Britney’s counsel, launched an offensive against both Federline’s legal team and Spears’ previous one, alleging that the singer was being asked to foot exorbitantly unreasonable bills, which has totaled more than $1 million.

K-Fed’s legal pit bull, Mark Vincent Kaplan, has so far stuck Spears with a tab of $405,000 for services rendered since the custody battle royale kicked off. Last year, Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon ruled that Spears, being the main breadwinner, would have to pony up for “reasonable” fees racked up by her ex.

Phillips argued that Kaplan should only be allowed to receive $150,000-$175,000 from Spears, claiming that Federline can afford to foot part of the bill.

“Mr. Federline uses his business as a personal checkbook,” Phillips told the court. “He does not write receipts. He spent $20,000 on jewelry, he charges his business to buy clothes, cars, huge amounts of food, he lets Shar Jackson use his business credit card, claiming it’s all business.

“We know he has a greater ability to pay fees. He had a dinner bill that was $365 and he left a $2,000 tip.”

Phillips further charged that attorneys had unnecessarily attended the court hearings to pad the billable hours Spears has been made responsible for.

Kaplan retaliated by claiming that, if anything, his fee of $600 an hour is undercharging the hard-hit singer—especially compared to Phillips’ hourly meter of $700.

“I believe we are under market for the package you get when you hire our firm,” Kaplan told the court commissioner.

Kaplan added that having to call eight emergency hearings since last fall also contributed to the total cost. He said that he and his partner, Jim Simon, needed to be together in court and was nothing compared to Spears’ counsel, which appeared at each hearing in packs of three to five.

He then shot down Phillips’ claim that his press conferences cost Spears money, saying he’s never charged or accepted fees when talking to the media.

Kaplan also put some of the blame for the rising court costs on Spears’ camp, saying that in the wake of the singer’s psychological meltdown in January, status hearings on her mental state, as well as results of various medical tests, have held up proceedings. Realistically, he continued, the custody trial won’t kick off until August, resulting in fees getting racked up over a longer period of time than was initially necessary.

Shortly after the arguments were made, Gordon booted the press and public from the courtroom.

During the remainder of the closed-door proceedings, Phillips was also expected to dispute a $600,000 invoice from Spears’ previous custody team of Trope and Trope, led by attorney Sorrell Trope, which racked up the massive bill after fewer than six months on the job.

Court spokesman Allan Parachini said after the hearing that the commissioner did not rule on the matter of fees but that he would “take it under submission.”

While the question of payment was chief on the hearing’s agenda, it’s unclear whether any changes would be made—or requested—on the custody front. About two weeks ago, Federline signed off on a modified agreement that allowed Spears to spend highly monitored time with her sons for the first time in nearly two months.

Parachini said after the hearing that there was a “conversation in court about visitation, but as of now there has been no change in the visitation.”

Another hearing on the temporary conservatorship of Spears’ estate by her father is scheduled to take place at the same courthouse this afternoon. Chief among topics expected to be covered at that meeting is when the court will hear updates on Spears’ psychiatric condition.

Last week, Court Commissioner Reva Goetz extended papa Spears’ reign over Britney’s estate to July 31. Depending on her response to the new psychiatric treatment she’s receiving, however, the hold may be lifted considerably earlier.



UPDATE: Britney Granted $1500 A Week
A judge just ruled that Jamie Spears can give Britney a debit/credit card to use that has a $1,500 per week limit on it.

Jamie’s lawyer, Geraldine Wyle, said it was “so she can spend money, have her freedom, and make choices about how she wants to enjoy her life.”



UPDATE: Judge Rules: Britney Gets $1,500 Allowance
Britney Spears is getting an allowance.

The pop star, who is worth an estimated $100 million, has been approved for a $1,500-a-week allowance on a debit card, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz ruled Monday.

In addition, Goetz approved the hiring of two specialist attorneys to help the singer and her lawyers sort out her affairs while Spears is under a temporary co-conservatorship.

One, Jorge Hernandez, will get a $25,000 retainer to be an around-the-clock consultant on all questions pertaining to the co-conservatorship. The other, lawyer Tom Hansen, will receive $15,000 a month for his services as an entertainment lawyer consulting on Spears’s entertainment deals and contracts.

The ruling comes the same day as a separate hearing in which lawyers for Spears said that her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, should take responsibility for some of his legal bills in the former couple’s ongoing custody battle.

The question of who will pay the legal fees “is under submission,” according to court spokesman Allan Parachini. “When the judge will rule, I don’t know.”


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