How Much Did O.J. Simpson Pay His Lawyers?

atkins bookshelf triviaCalled the “trial of the century,” the O.J. Simpson trial was extraordinary because it was a high-profile double homicide case that received unprecedented publicity on television and in the press. At the center of the courtroom drama was Simpson’s team of veteran, high-profile, and high-priced lawyers, dubbed the “Dream Team” by the press: lead attorney Robert Shapiro; close friend of Simpson, Robert Kardashian; attorney to the stars Johnnie Cochran; murder trial veteran F. Lee Bailey; Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz; DNA experts Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld; and Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelman. A great defense, of course, comes with a high price. So how much did O.J. Simpson pay these high-profile lawyers?

Interviewed by a reporter for The New York Times, Shapiro declined to answer the question of how much he was charging Simpson for his defense. However, Robert Pugsley, a criminal-law professor at Southwestern University Law School (Los Angeles), estimated that the cost of Simpson’s defense — including the Dream Team, assistant lawyers, investigators, experts, jury specialists, pathologists, and expenses (office, travel, transportation, etc.) — would come to about $5 million.

Charles Lindner, past president of the Los Angeles Criminal Bar Association, noted that top defense lawyers usually charge a starting flat fee of about $500,000 for a capital case involving a celebrity (and that was in 1994, so that amount is higher today). Given that during the trial, Simpson was represented by at least 10 attorneys, if you do the math ($500,000 x 10), you get a similar estimate: about $5 million.

The $5 million estimate was confirmed during the Simpson civil trial three years later. At the civil trial in 1997, Simpson was found liable for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman and slapped with an $8.5 million compensatory judgment and $25 million in punitive damages. Simpson’s lawyers argued that he was broke — having spent between $3 – $5 million in legal fees for his murder trial defense. He also paid nearly $200,00 to regain custody of his children from their maternal grandparents. At the time of the murder in June 1994, Simpson’s wealth was estimated to be about $16 million; by February 1997, he was broke, being $836,000 in debt — talk about financially squeezed O.J…

Simpson’s legal bill is nothing compared to what the prosecution spent for their case — almost double. It is estimated that the prosecution’s case against Simpson cost taxpayers a whopping $9 million. This number includes the cost of district attorney, assistant attorneys, court costs (judge, court reporters, judicial assistants), sequestering of jury, sheriff’s deputies providing security, and Simpson’s incarceration for 473 days.

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