How to Resolve Fee Disputes with your Client: Fee Arbitration and Mediation Program

When Your Client Has Not Paid Your Bill

If your client has repeatedly ignored your attempts to communicate and resolve your unpaid fee — follow these steps:

  1. Under Business and Professions Code § 6200-6206, if you serve or intend to serve your client a summons in a law suit or proceed under a contract that provides for arbitration or an alternative to arbitration, you must fill out the State Bar of California “Notice of a Client’s Right to Arbitration” form and mail the completed form to your client.
  • The Contra Costa County Bar Association Program has jurisdiction over a fee dispute if at least one of the attorneys involved in the dispute has an office in Contra Costa County or maintained an office in Contra Costa County at the times the services were rendered, or the majority of the legal services were provided in Contra Costa County, subject to any other disqualifying criteria as set forth in our rules.
  • If your dispute falls under these parameters then download the “Notice of a Client’s Right to Arbitration
  • If not, contact the bar association in the county that has jurisdiction to see if they administer a fee arbitration program, or contact the State Bar of California Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program at (415) 538-2020.
  1. Under the code, arbitration is voluntary for a client, unless the parties agreed in writing to submit their fee dispute to arbitration, and mandatory of an attorney if commenced by a client. Failure to give notice shall be a ground for dismissal of the action or other proceeding [B&P Code § 6201(a)].
  2. Once your client receives your Notice, they have 30 days to file a written application for arbitration with the Bar Association. If they do not return a completed request form within 30 days, they will have waived their right to arbitrate.
  3. If the client requests arbitration within the correct time frame, we will notify you by mail.
  4. You have 30 days to complete the “Attorney’s Reply to Client’s Request for Arbitration” that will be enclosed, unless an extension of time to reply is obtained from the program.
  5. If the client doesn’t do anything, you have the right to file a lawsuit.

For more information about the fee arbitration program, go to our website, under the “Assistance & Services” tab, “Are You Having a Fee Dispute?”:  How to Resolve Fee Disputes with Your Client

For more information, contact:

Emily Day, Fee Arbitration Coordinator

(925) 370-2541

Filed Under: Spotlight


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