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Kenneth Feinberg
Nationality American
Occupation Attorney

Kenneth Feinberg is an American attorney, specializing in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Feinberg was appointed Special Master of the U.S. Government's September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and currently serves as the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, popularly called the 'pay czar'. He is also an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and at the Columbia University School of Law.


Life and career

Originally from Brockton, Massachusetts, he received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1967 and a law degree from the New York University School of Law in 1970. He worked for five years as an administrative assistant and chief of staff for U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and as a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney General. Before founding his own firm -- The Feinberg Group -- in 1993, he was a founding partner at the Washington office of Kaye Scholer LLP.

Feinberg has served as Court-Appointed Special Settlement Master in cases including Agent Orange product liability litigation, Asbestos Personal Injury Litigation and DES Cases. Feinberg was also one of three arbitrators who determined the fair market value of the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and was one of two arbitrators who determined the allocation of legal fees in the Holocaust slave labor litigation. He is a former Lecturer-in-Law at a number of U.S. law schools.


September 11 Victim Compensation Fund

Appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to be Special Master of the fund, Feinberg worked for 33 months entirely pro bono. He developed the regulations governing the administration of the fund and administered all aspects of the program, including evaluating applications, determining appropriate compensation and disseminating awards.

Early in the process he was described as aloof and arrogant. Feinberg was subjected to some very public criticism at meetings, in the media and on Web sites.[1] "I underestimated the emotion of this at the beginning", Feinberg has said. "I didn't fully appreciate how soon this program had been established after 9/11, so there was a certain degree of unanticipated anger directed at me that I should have been more attuned to."[2]

It was up to Feinberg to make the decisions on how much each family of a 9/11 victim would receive. Feinberg had to estimate how much each victim would have earned in a full lifetime. If a family accepted the offer, it was not possible to appeal. Families unhappy with the offer were able to appeal in a nonadversarial, informal hearing to present their case however they wanted. Feinberg personally presided over more than 900 of the 1,600 hearings. At the end of the process, $7 billion was awarded to 97% of the families.

"It's a brutal, sort of cold, thing to do. Anybody who looks at this program and expects that by cutting a U.S. Treasury check, you are going to make 9/11 families happy, is vastly misunderstanding what's going on with this program," said Feinberg. "There is not one family member I've met who wouldn't gladly give back the check, or, in many cases, their own lives to have that loved one back. 'Happy' never enters into this equation."[2]

Feinberg was able to change the mind of some of his harshest critics. Charles Wolf, whose wife died in the north tower, renamed his highly critical Web site called "Fix the Fund" to "The Fund is Fixed!". At first he called Feinberg "patronizing, manipulative and at times, even cruel." Later he said, "To have one of your sharpest critics follow through on a promise and not only join the program he was criticizing, but promote it to his peers, says a lot about you and the way you have adjusted both the program and your attitude." "Today, I have complete faith in you."

In 2005 his book, titled "What is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11," was published.

On June 17, 2005, he was honored by his hometown of Brockton by having a road named after him: Attorney Ken Feinberg Way.

Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund

On July 5, 2007, it was announced that Feinberg would work pro bono as the chief administrator to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund (HSMF). The HSMF was set up by the Virginia Tech Foundation in the aftermath of the events of April 16, 2007, on the Virginia Tech Campus. Feinberg and the university plan to disseminate a set of proposals for comment about distributions to the families in mid-July. The victims or families will have options on the ultimate uses of the funds. Payments would be completed sometime during the fall.[3 ]

Special Master for Executive Compensation

On June 10, 2009, Feinberg was appointed by the U.S. Treasury Department to oversee the compensation of top executives at companies which have received federal bailout assistance.[4]

See also


External links


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