If you are disputing your attorney fees and/or the work done, you can apply for Mandatory Fee Arbitration (Attorney must participate).
The California State Bar approved Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program
of the Solano County Bar Association handles fee and cost disputes including
claims of return of non-earned prepaid fees. Mandatory Fee Arbitration
operates under the authority of the California Business & Professions
Code sections 6200-6206.
Before a California attorney can proceed to the courts to collect fees
and/or costs, they must deliver a "Notice of Client's Right to Arbitration"
either before filing suit or concurrently with the summons
and complaint. If you have received a
"Notice of Client's Right to Arbitration" from the attorney
claiming fees, and you wish to arbitrate, you must file a request for
arbitration using the proper forms and paying a filing fee with a California
State Bar approved fee arbitration program within thirty (30) days of
the day you received the Notice or you will lose the right to compel
the attorney to arbitration.
You cannot request or maintain arbitration if you answer a lawsuit brought
by the attorney claiming fees or file an action against the attorney,
with a court, for malpractice or damages after receiving notice of your
right to arbitrate. An arbitrator will be appointed who has the responsibility
to select a mutually convenient date for a hearing. Each side is given
the opportunity to present their case after which the arbitrator makes
The arbitration award is advisory only unless BOTH you and the attorney
agree to make the award binding. A binding award means that the arbitrator's
decision is final. An advisory award means that if either party is not
satisfied with the arbitrator's decision, that party has the right to
have a court decide the matter. An advisory award automatically becomes
binding thirty days after the award is mailed to you unless either party
requests a trial after arbitration with a court.
- You do not need a lawyer to represent you.
- The hearing is less formal than a courtroom setting.
- The process is much quicker than the court system.
- If your lawyer has already filed a lawsuit to collect fees, you may
have the action suspended by filing for fee arbitration within 30 days
of being served.
- Our jurisdiction is limited to the issue of attorney's
fees only. If the quality of the attorney's services is
at issue, then you may contact the State Bar of California
at (800) 843-9053. An attorney's alleged malpractice may
only be considered by the arbitration panel as it relates
- The arbitration will be considered advisory only unless both parties
agree to binding arbitration.
- Local attorneys and businesspeople volunteer to serve
as arbitrators. One-person panels consist of an attorney
with more than 5 years of practice experience. Three-person
panels consist of 2 attorneys (one who meets the 5-year
criterion) and a lay person.
- There is a filing fee required for the Fee Arbitration Program. This
fee is based upon the amount in dispute. The range is from $50 to $500. Once
the case is opened, this fee is non-refundable. The arbitration
panel has within its discretion the power to award filing fees to either
If you have received a Notice of Client's Right to Arbitrate letter
from your attorney, you have 30 days to file a Client's Request
For Fee Arbitration with our office. Otherwise, your right to fee arbitration
is permanently waived.
For more information or for answers to your questions, please call the
Solano County Bar Association at (707) 422-5087.