Kenneth R. Feinberg
"Unconventional Responses to Unique Catastrophes: Tailoring the Law to Meet the Challenges"
October 4, 2012
Named the “Lawyer of the Year” in 2004 by the National Law Journal, and listed repeatedly in the Journal’s “Profiles in Power: The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America,” Kenneth Feinberg is the nation’s leading authority on mediating disputes and administering compensatory awards in mass injury cases.
Mr. Feinberg has earned his national prominence through high-profile service in many of America’s most controversial and emotionally laden cases. He may be best known for serving, upon request by then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, as Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, a 33-month pro bono undertaking in which he evaluated applications, determined appropriate compensation, and paid awards to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He later described this heart-rending work in his book, What Is Life Worth? The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11 (Public Affairs, 2005). A few years later, Mr. Feinberg was designated as administrator of the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech. Most recently, he has served at the request of the Obama Administration and British Petroleum as administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Compensation Fund, established to expedite compensation to victims of the Gulf oil spill.
Mr. Feinberg also has served as a Special Master in the Agent Orange, Dalkon shield, and DES (pregnancy medication) cases, as well as in asbestos litigation. In the commercial sector, he designed, implemented and administered an Alternative Dispute Resolution program for settling insurance claims made by victims of Hurricane Katrina and other Gulf hurricanes. In the aftermath of the nation’s financial crisis in 2007-2008, he served as Distribution Agent for AIG (American International Group, Inc.) Fair Fund claimants, and – at the request of the Secretary of the Treasury – he oversaw the determination of salary limitations for top executives at companies receiving federal bailout (TARP) assistance.
Mr. Feinberg has played a creative role as fund administrator in the design and implementation of other prominent settlements arising out of litigation. Examples include In Re: United States of America v. Computer Associates International, Inc. (a restitution fund of $275 million); In Re: International Air Transportation Surcharge Antitrust Litigation (a $200 million fund); In Re: Zyprexa Product Liability Litigation (a $700 million fund); and In Re: Latino Officers Association City of New York, Inc., et al., v. The City of New York, et al.(a $17 million settlement fund).
In the course of his colorful career, Mr. Feinberg has been a court-appointed special settlement master, mediator and arbitrator in a vast array of other disputes – some with unique fact patterns. For example, he was one of three arbitrators selected to determine the fair market value of the original Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, and he was one of two arbitrators selected to determine the allocation of legal fees in the Holocaust slave labor litigation.
Mr. Feinberg received his B.A. degree cum laude from the University of Massachusetts in 1967 and his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1970, where he was Articles Editor of the Law Review. He was a law clerk for Chief Judge Stanley H. Fuld, New York State Court of Appeals from 1970 to 1972; Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York from 1972 to 1975; Special Counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 1975 to 1980; Administrative Assistant to Senator Edward M. Kennedy from 1977 to 1979; partner at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler from 1980 to 1993; and founder of The Feinberg Group, LLP, in 1993. He currently is the managing partner of Feinberg Rozen, LLP, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C.
Remarkably, Mr. Feinberg has found time for additional forms of civic engagement and volunteer service to the nation. He was a member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Human Radiation Experiments from 1994 to 1998; the Presidential Commission on Catastrophic Nuclear Accidents from 1989 to 1990; and the Carnegie Commission Task Force on Science and Technology in Judicial and Regulatory Decision Making from 1989 to 1993. He is a current member of the National Judicial Panel of the Center for Public Resources; board chair-elect of the RAND Institute of Civil Justice; vice-chair of the Board of Human Rights First; a member of the Board of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; and president of the Washington National Opera.
A gifted communicator, Mr. Feinberg has shared his professional experiences and perspectives in law school classrooms at Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, New York University, the University of Virginia, and Columbia University. He also has delivered guest lectures at Duke, UCLA, Vanderbilt, and the New York Law School.
And now he is coming to Idaho. We are proud to welcome Mr. Feinberg as the 2012 Sherman J. Bellwood Memorial Lecturer.