Steps for Fee Dispute Arbitration
- Read the bylaws and complete the application.
- Obtain response from opposing party.
- Assign arbitrator.
- Schedule arbitration.
- Arbitration hearing.
- Arbitration award.
1. READ THE BYLAWS AND COMPLETE THE APPLICATION:
Read the Bylaws for the Fee Dispute Arbitration Committee and familiarize yourself with the process and complete the Petitioner’s Agreement for Fee Dispute. Attach copies of any documentation to support your claim (this includes the fee agreement you had with your attorney, if there was one; cancelled checks, receipts, etc., as well as documentation of how you have attempted to resolve the fee dispute before contacting the state bar).
2. OBTAIN RESPONSE FROM OPPOSING PARTY:
The state bar will send copies of the forms to the opposing party, who will have an opportunity to respond. Participation in the arbitration is mandatory for attorneys who have been the subject of three or more fee disputes within the two years prior to the filing of the arbitration agreement.
3. ASSIGN MEDIATOR OR ARBITRATOR:
Claims of $5,000 or less will be assigned to a mediator to attempt to resolve the matter informally. The mediator will not render a decision, but attempt to persuade the parties to come to a mutual agreement. If mediation does not work, the parties will be offered the opportunity to continue the fee dispute process through arbitration. Parties to a claim of $5,000 or more may also elect mediation as a primary means for dispute resolution.
If a case is referred to arbitration, a member of the committee will appoint a single arbitrator (if the matter involves a fee of $10,000 or less) or a panel of three arbitrators (for fee disputes over $10,000).
4. SCHEDULE ARBITRATION:
The arbitrator will contact the parties, schedule a hearing date, and ask you to present any additional evidence you may want to provide. If a party is unable to attend the hearing in person, the hearing may be held telephonically. Hearing dates may be continued by the arbitrator if good cause is shown.
5. ARBITRATION HEARING:
The arbitrator or arbitration panel will hold a hearing at a place of the arbitrator’s choosing (often at the arbitrator’s office). The parties to the arbitration may present evidence and cross-examine witnesses appearing at the hearing. Parties have the right to be represented by an attorney at the arbitration. Parties also have the right to bring a court reporter at their own expense. If either party fails to appear at the hearing without good cause, the arbitrator(s) may proceed with the hearing and resolve the dispute upon the evidence produced.
6. ARBITRATION AWARD:
Within 30 days of the arbitration, the arbitrator or arbitration panel will render an award in writing. The award will be mailed to the parties by the Committee Regional Chair. If both parties consent to binding arbitration, the award may be enforced by any court of competent jurisdiction.
Parties may appeal the arbitrator’s decision within 30 days after the decision was mailed. The Fee Dispute Committee’s State Chair will determine the merits of the appeal based on section XIII of the By-laws for Fee Dispute Arbitration.