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FEE ARBITRATION
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FEE ARBITRATION PROGRAM

Fee Arbitration is an out-of-court hearing regarding a fee dispute between lawyer and client. In a Fee Arbitration, a sole arbitrator or a panel of lawyers and non-lawyers, who are neutral and trained by the State Bar, listen to what the client and the attorney have to say, examine the attorney’s services to the client and both parties' supporting records, and reach a decision regarding the fee dispute.

FEE ARBITRATION FORMS AND RULES

If your attorney has provided you with a Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitrate, you have 30 days from the date you received it to file a request for arbitration on the forms provided below. The Client’s Request to Arbitrate a Fee Dispute must be submitted to our office within 30 days from receipt of the notice from your attorney. The form must be completely filled out and the filing fee must be included. Failure to properly file may constitute a waiver of your right to request or maintain arbitration. Contacting the Monterey County Bar Association by phone or by letter will not protect that right.

 

FEE ARBITRATION FORMS AND RULES (For the client)

Rules of Procedures

Client's Request to Arbitrate a Fee Dispute

Fee Waiver Request

 

 

FEE ARBITRATION FORMS (For the attorney)

Rules of Procedures

Attorney's Request For Arbitration of a Fee Dispute

 

 

 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For additional information regarding the MCBA Fee Arbitration program, please contact Program Administrator Jennifer Ramras Dalton at (831)582-5400.

 

 

FEE ARBITRATION – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Fee Arbitration?
Fee arbitration is a process you can use to resolve a dispute over fees with your attorney. An impartial panel hears the dispute and makes a final decision based on the facts and evidence presented by you and the attorney.

What can I do to resolve a fee dispute before arbitration?
Before you start the fee arbitration process, we recommend that you attempt to resolve the dispute over fees with your attorney on your own.

 How do I request a Fee Arbitration?
You complete a form known as Client’s Request to Arbitrate a Fee Dispute. This may be obtained by downloading it from our website, or by contacting the Monterey County Bar Association.

 Do I need an attorney to represent me?
Arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court, and the client does not have to hire an attorney to attend the hearing. Arbitration hearings are informal, although evidence is usually taken under oath. You may be represented by an attorney but it is not necessary. If you do not speak English, you can arrange for an interpreter or a support person to attend the hearing with you. The interpreter must be over the age of eighteen.

 What will be decided at the time of the hearing?
The issues to be decided in the fee arbitration are limited. The arbitrator will decide what the appropriate amount of your fees and costs should be, if any, or whether you should receive a refund from the lawyer.

 What will happen at the hearing?
The client and the lawyer will both have a chance to make statements, ask each other questions and present evidence such as letters or the fee agreement. You may also present witnesses - someone who, for example, heard you and your lawyer agree to the fee. Keep in mind that the aim of Fee Arbitration is to determine if the fee amount is appropriate for the lawyer's work on your case. Arbitrators do consider the lawyer's performance in your case to reach their decision. Arbitrators will not - and cannot - award any additional money for what may or may not be attorney malpractice or professional misconduct.

 What is the role of the arbitrator?
The arbitrator is a neutral decision maker. The arbitrator considers evidence presented by all parties and makes a decision on the lawyer’s fees. The arbitrator cannot represent either the client or the lawyer in the dispute.

 What is the award?
The award is the decision of the arbitrator specifying whether you owe money to the lawyer, whether the lawyer owes money to you, or whether neither of you owes any money.

 What happens after I receive the award?
When you receive the arbitration award, you will also receive a Notice of Your Rights after Arbitration. The Notice should answer most of the questions you have regarding your rights. Pay close attention to the deadlines in the Notice.

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