FEE ARBITRATION is an out-of-court hearing in which a sole arbitrator (trained by the State Bar) or a panel of lawyers and non-lawyers (also trained by the State Bar) and not involved in the dispute will listen to what the client and the attorney have to say, examine the attorney's performance and supporting records and reach a decision regarding the fee dispute. Arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court, and the client does not have to hire an attorney to attend the hearing. Arbitration hearings are informal. You may be represented by an attorney but it is not necessary. And if you do not speak English, you can arrange for an interpreter or a support person to attend the hearing with you. The client and the lawyer will both have a chance to make statements, ask each other questions and present evidence such as letters or the fee agreement. You may also present witnesses - someone who, for example, heard you and your lawyer agree to the fee. Keep in mind that the aim of Fee Arbitration is to determine if the fee amount is appropriate for the lawyer's work on your case. Arbitrators do consider the lawyer's performance in your case to reach their decision. But they will not - and cannot - award any additional money for what may or may not be attorney malpractice or professional misconduct. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION regarding Fee Arbitration, or for forms, etc., please contact the Monterey County Bar Association at (831) 582-5400.
The Rules of Procedure for Fee Arbitration can be downloaded in Word format here.
The following are links to relevant forms:
Email - Monterey Bar Address
Phone: (831) 582-3600
Monterey County Bar Association
2620 Colonel Durham Drive
Seaside, CA 93955