The State Bar's Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program is an informal, confidential, and lower-cost forum for resolving fee disputes between lawyers and their clients. This kind of arbitration is required for a lawyer if requested by a client. For more information or assistance, call the State Bar Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program at 415-538-2020
What is the deadline for requesting fee arbitration?
If you received a Notice of Client's Right to Fee Arbitration form from the attorney, you have 30 days from the date you received it to submit your arbitration request form to the program.
If you do not file the request form with the program within 30 days, you will lose your right to arbitrate your fee dispute. A telephone call or letter to the program requesting arbitration will not protect that right. You must be sure that the request form is completely filled out and that you have included any filing fee that may be required.
If the attorney has already filed a lawsuit against you for unpaid fees, you may elect either to respond to the lawsuit or request fee arbitration. If you file a response to the lawsuit, you will lose your right to arbitrate the fee dispute. If you request arbitration, the lawsuit will be stayed, but you should file the appropriate notice of automatic stay with the court. To preserve your right to arbitrate, you should file a request for arbitration promptly.