Samuel Ingham has faced intense scrutiny for his representation of Spears, who has said she’s been unable to choose her own lawyer
In court last month, Spears said she wanted the conservatorship terminated. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
The Guardian-Sam Levin in Los Angeles
Britney Spears’s court-appointed lawyer has asked to resign from the conservatorship that has controlled her life for 13 years.
The news of lawyer Samuel D Ingham’s decision to step down comes after the singer’s emotional courtroom testimony prompted the resignation of her manager and the withdrawal of a wealth management firm involved in her conservatorship. The legal arrangement, which has been in place since 2008, has given Spears’s father and other parties intense authority over her career, finances, personal life and medical care.
In court last month, Spears said she wanted the conservatorship terminated, saying it was abusive and that the arrangement had forced her to perform and take medications against her will, and controlled her reproductive rights.
The fallout has been swift. In a short court filing on Tuesday, Ingham said he intended to resign as soon as the court could appoint Spears another lawyer. The law firm, Loeb & Loeb, which had been working with Ingham, also announced its intent to resign.
Ingham in particular has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Spears testified that she wanted to be able to choose her own lawyer, but that the conservatorship has blocked her from doing so. The arrangement controls her finances, and Ingham was appointed at the start when the court deemed Spears incapable of selecting an attorney.
In the conservatorship, Spears’s estate pays for her court-appointed lawyer as well as the opposing lawyers and others involved in the conservatorship. Ingham has made $3m as her lawyer, making $475 an hour – a special rate allowed by the court in cases with “unusual problems requiring extraordinary expertise”, the New York Times recently reported.
Investigations by the Times and the New Yorker have raised questions about the fraught process that created the conservatorship in the first place, and suggest that Spears has repeatedly objected to the arrangement for years before her first public comments on the case last month.
Critics have questioned Ingham’s representation of Spears after she testified that she did not know she could file a petition to terminate the conservatorship. While internal records suggest that Spears had forcefully complained about the arrangement to a court investigator, Ingham has never filed to end it. He has in recent years filed requests to have the singer’s father, Jamie Spears, removed as a conservator.
Ingham did not immediately respond to request for comment on Tuesday.
Some legal experts say that if Spears is able to hire her own lawyer, she could expedite a process to challenge the conservatorship. Others warn that the court process could drag on for years, noting that it is difficult for people to end conservatorships once they are deemed incapacitated.
Spears’s manager, Larry Rudolph, announced his resignation earlier this week and suggested that the singer may want to retire.