This is the first of a four-part series on how to dispute attorney fees. This series of posts are specific to the formal process of an attorney fee dispute that is provided by a local bar association, but this is not your only option for a refund of attorney fees.
I share more on the different options in my Ebook, Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, that highly encourage you to purchase.
Let’s Jump In
Most all states offer a fee dispute resolution program that is administered the local bar associations. The programs vary from state to state; and come in the form of either a mediation, arbitration, or both. I recommend that you visit my website’s Helpful Resources section and look at the Local Bar Office & Website or Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement headings. The specifics of your state’s fee dispute resolution programs will be covered under one of those titles. These sections should provide more information for each program; however, I recommended a phone conversation with a representative to be absolutely clear on the `format for an attorney fee dispute.
Regardless of whether a fee dispute mediation or a fee dispute arbitration are offered as a means to an attorney fee dispute by your state, both are consumer-friendly formats, and you do not need an attorney to represent you. The following is a description of each:
Fee Dispute Mediation
A fee dispute mediation is a process where you and your attorney seek to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator. Most mediations involve separating you and your attorney into two separate rooms without direct interaction. The mediator is an independent intermediary who bounces from one party to the other and attempts to negotiate a settlement. It can be a very non-confrontational and the setting is informal, but you must be prepared. The mediator is usually an attorney and they understand the issues related to the area of law for your case.
Fee Dispute Arbitration
A fee dispute arbitration is very similar to a court hearing, but consisting of a multi-person panel that issues a binding decision. It is a more formal process, yet very consumer-friendly and without strict adherence to the rules of evidentiary procedure, like in a court of law.
Once again, you should visit my website’s Helpful Resources section and look under the headings Local Bar Office & Website and Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement. If a fee dispute arbitration is offered in your state, then it will be covered under one of those headings. Remember to call your local or State Bar and have a conversation with a representative, so you understand the specifics and how to start the process. There are rules for arbitration, and I highly advise you to read them to understand what exactly is involved. Perhaps, even consider a short consultation with an Ethics & Professional Responsibility attorney who has experience with fee dispute arbitrations.
I will conclude this initial post and allow you time to complete your attorney fee dispute research. Be sure to read How To Dispute Attorney Fees – Part 2, How To Dispute Attorney Fees – Part 3, and How To Dispute Attorney Fees – Part 4, that follow.
Kenneth R. Gilley is the President of Kenneth R. Gilley & Co., LLC, a small digital marketing company. He is the author of the e-book, Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, and regularly contributes to his blog, My.LegalLessons.com. Ken holds a B.S. in Marketing from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, and lives in The Woodlands, TX.