Resources Fee Dispute Resolution

Are you having a fee dispute with a lawyer?

The Fee Arbitration Program provides clients and attorneys with a simple method to settle their fee disputes without going to court. Clients can use the program with or without the assistance of an attorney.

Filing Procedure for Clients

  • Complete the Client’s Request for Arbitration of a Fee Dispute

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  • Return the Request for Arbitration to the address on the form along with the appropriate filing fee, by check or credit card. Your Request cannot be filed without the filing fee.

Important Information Clients Should Know

A Client waives the right to arbitration (assuming that the client has received the proper Notice of the Client’s Right To Arbitrate) in two ways: by either (1) filing an answer in a suit or other proceeding by the attorney to recover the unpaid fees; or (2) by not requesting arbitration within 30 days of the time that the client receives the Notice of Client’s Right to arbitrate.

California Business and Professions Code sections 6200 to 6206 govern fee arbitration. Section 6200 provides that when a client requests fee arbitration, the attorney is required to participate. As of January 1997, an attorney can require a client to arbitrate if the fee agreement includes an arbitration clause. Before an attorney can sue a client for outstanding attorney fees, the attorney must serve the client with a Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitrate either before or at the time of filing a suit or any other proceeding (including arbitration in another forum) for the recovery of fees or costs or both. If the attorney does not serve the client with the Notice, it is grounds to dismiss the lawsuit. If the attorney serves the client with a notice that does not substantially comply wit the Notice approved by the State Bar, that is also grounds to dismiss the lawsuit.

The client can file for fee arbitration with the Marin County Bar Association even if the client has not been sent a Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitrate.

Read the Marin County Bar Association Fee Arbitration Rules

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