Bankruptcy Professional Fees:

Guidelines for Reviewing Fee Applications

GGD-95-36FS: Published: Mar 6, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1995.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the guidelines the Assistant U.S. Trustees (AUST) used to assess the reasonableness of bankruptcy attorneys' and other legal professionals' fee requests.

GAO found that: (1) of the 97 AUST surveyed, one-third had written AUST guidelines, one-half had written judicial directives regarding professional fees, and two-thirds had unwritten guidelines governing fee applications; (2) many of the AUST with trustee guidelines or judicial directives had guidelines specific to chapter 11 bankruptcy cases; (3) nearly two-fifths of the AUST with unwritten judicial guidelines had guidelines applicable to chapter 11 cases; (4) the written guidelines or directives AUST used most often in chapter 11 cases addressed professional fee application formats and lodestar formulas; (5) the unwritten guidelines AUST used in chapter 11 cases were related to holdbacks and the lodestar formula; (6) the Office of U.S. Trustees (OUST) objected to most chapter 11 fee applications because the attorneys did not adequately describe their work or itemize each task; (7) OUST objected most frequently to applications submitted by debtor attorneys; (8) OUST objected to chapter 11 fee applications more frequently, held pre-fee hearing consultations less frequently, and devoted more staff to reviewing fee applications than offices with no guidelines; (9) bankruptcy judges awarded private trustees in chapter 7 cases the statutory maximum compensation permitted in 81 percent of the cases; and (10) although excessive paperwork was the main reason private trustees voluntarily left their positions, challenging work and a dependable source of income were the most important reasons private trustees remained in their positions.

Oct 26, 2020

Sep 30, 2020

Sep 10, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Aug 13, 2020

Jul 29, 2020

Jul 8, 2020

Jun 22, 2020

May 26, 2020

May 12, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here