The tragedy drama ‘Worth’ centers around the character of Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney tasked with overseeing the compensation of 9/11 victims under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The film follows a harrowing story in which the legal government representative realizes that his regular detached and calculating tactics will not be enough to earn the trust of the victims’ families, and with the health of the nation’s economy depending on the success of the fund, he finds himself having to rethink his approach. The remarkable character of Kenneth Feinberg manages the daunting task of balancing pragmatism and emotion, and we wanted to get to know more about him, so here’s what we found.
Is Kenneth Feinberg a Real Attorney?
Yes, Kenneth Feinberg is a real attorney who specializes in dispute resolution and has undertaken many high-profile mediation cases in the course of his career. In fact, even before he was appointed as the Special Master of the 9/11 compensation fund, he had worked on cases involving the product liability of Agent Orange and the Asbestos Personal Injury Litigation. These cases are also mentioned in passing in the film as valuable experience for the attorney whilst he is being considered for the role of managing the fund. As stated at the end of the film, Feinberg went on to handle many more such compensation cases, including those involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and many others.
Feinberg received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in history in 1967 and went on to earn a J.D. (Juris Doctor) from New York University School of Law in 1970. He spent the early years of his career as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and then as Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He was also an aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and rose to become his Chief of Staff before eventually setting up a law firm — The Feinberg Group, LLP — in Washington D.C.
Where is Kenneth Feinberg Today?
Kenneth Feinberg continues to be a key figure in the field of mediation and alternative dispute resolution and has taken on multiple cases since his time as Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He has authored two books since— ‘What Is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11’ (2005) and ‘Who Gets What: Fair Compensation after Tragedy and Financial Upheaval’ (2012). In a recent interview, he extolled the need for a new White House office to assist Americans affected by the devastating effects of Covid- 19 and tragedies in general.
Speaking on the subject and his wide experience in dealing with people who have lived through tragedy, he commented — “It’s the emotional impact of tragedy. What I’ve learned, the most difficult part of what I do when President Obama or President Bush ask me to take on one of these assignments, brace yourself for what you’re going to hear from the victim or the surviving family and how they’re going to try and cope moving forward. And there’s not enough attention given to that.”
Kenneth Fienberg seemingly resides in Bethesda, Maryland, and is also, according to his firm’s website, an Adjunct Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Georgetown University Law Center. He seemingly still partners with Camille Biros in his legal practice, and their offices are located in The Willard Office Building in Washington D.C.