Fee Arbitration Procedures
If you are having a dispute with your attorney over your legal bill, one option is to turn to a fee arbitration program. Most states offer these programs, in which a neutral party will hear evidence from you and your attorney and determine what the proper bill should be. While fee arbitration programs vary somewhat from state to state, most involve a similar process.
In order to initiate fee arbitration, you have to file a claim with your local or state bar association. You generally will need to submit some paperwork with the claim, such as copies of your attorney’s bill. In some states your lawyer’s participation in the process is mandatory, but in many states his or her participation is voluntary. However, most lawyers will agree to take part in fee arbitration in order to resolve the dispute.
Your lawyer will generally be provided with a copy of your claim, and you will receive a copy of your lawyer’s response. A hearing will then be scheduled, during which you and your lawyer will present testimony to a sole arbitrator (sometimes a panel of 3 arbitrators, depending on where you are and the amount in dispute.
The arbitrator’s decision will usually not be made at the hearing. After a stated amount of time, the arbitrator will determine whether the attorney’s fees were reasonable. You may be awarded a refund of some of attorney’s fees or costs. On the other hand, the arbitrator may decide that no refund is owed, or that you owe money to the attorney.
Since the fee arbitration process varies from state to state, it is a good idea to contact your state or local bar association for information. They will be able to advise you of your rights and responsibilities under the fee arbitration system.
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Last Modified: 07-23-2012 04:18 PM PDT