What is Fee Arbitration?

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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One of the biggest areas of dispute between lawyers and their clients concerns legal fees.  Often there is simply a miscommunication regarding the attorney’s fee structure.  However, sometimes there is a mistake on the bill, and unfortunately there are a few lawyers who simply inflate their price.  Due to the high cost, time, and difficulty associated with taking your attorney to court, many people end up simply paying the bill.  However, there is an easy, low cost alternative: Fee arbitration.

Fee arbitration programs are generally run by state or local bar associations.  In fee arbitration, an independent third party (the arbitrator) will hear both the attorney and the client explain their sides of the story.  The arbitrator will then determine what the proper bill should be, and either direct the client to pay or the attorney to refund.  This process is usually free or at a low cost, and generally can be resolved within 2-3 months.

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), 42 states currently offer fee arbitration programs.  If you are interested in finding out whether fee arbitration is available in your area, you should contact your state or local bar association.  Most state bars offer live assistance regarding arbitration programs via telephone.  Also, many state bar association include fee arbitration information on their websites, as well as downloadable forms to get the process started.

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Last Modified: 12-31-2012 02:29 PM PST

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