If you have a problem with a lawyer’s bill, you don’t have to spend more money to go to court to resolve it. The State Bar can help you resolve a problem with attorney fees through an informal, confidential and low-cost alternative called Mandatory Fee Arbitration.
The goal of the program is to resolve fee disputes between attorneys and clients by helping them communicate their disagreements to an independent panel of arbitrators. If a client requests arbitration through the Mandatory Fee Arbitration program, it is required for the attorney. Consumers do not need a lawyer to go through the process.
Most fee arbitrations are conducted through programs run by local bar associations. To request fee arbitration, contact the local county bar program where most of the legal services were provided. This is typically the county where the lawyer's office is located.
You can find a list of approved arbitration programs on the State Bar website. If there is no local bar program, the State Bar may provide fee arbitration. To start the process, complete a fee arbitration request form from the local bar association and submit the filing fee.
Include information about the attorney's fees and costs and explain why you believe the attorney's fees are excessive. Attach copies of any documents requested on the form.
For more information or help, call the State Bar Office of Mandatory Fee Arbitration at 415-538-2020.