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

Your Client Has Not Paid Your Bill

Rule of Procedure 2. D. JURISDICTION
(1) The CCCBA Program shall have 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 if a substantial portion of the legal services were provided in Contra Costa County, subject to any other disqualifying criteria as set forth in these rules.
(2) In the event of a dispute between the parties as to which program should hear the matter, the program where the arbitration request was first filed will determine that the arbitration will be conducted in the county where “a substantial portion of the legal services were per-formed,” and such ruling is final and not appealable to the State Bar. Should the fee dispute transfer to a different fee arbitration program after the request for arbitration is filed the original date of postmark or receipt of arbitration request will be preserved for purposes of determining whether jurisdiction exists.

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

  1. 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 following State Bar of California form:
    Notice of a Client’s Right to Fee Arbitration
  2. Please mail this completed form to your client.

    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.

    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.

  4. If the client doesn’t do anything, you have the right to file a lawsuit.

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Your Client Has Filed a Request to Arbitrate

Your client may request to participate in our Fee Arbitration and Mediation program because they disagree with your fee.

Once your client completes the “Request by Client for Arbitration of a Fee Dispute” and mails it to us along with the administrative fee, we will notify you by mail of their request.

You will also receive all the necessary documentation and information in the mail on how, and where, to respond.

Participation is mandatory for you if commenced by your client. You have 30 days to respond to us from the date of our letter.

Additional procedural instructions and deadlines will be mailed to you during the fee arbitration process.

Your Clients: Community Section Spotlight

Disputes With Your Lawyer: Read how we position this program to our Community members. The public gets steps, forms and information about what to do for a possible fee dispute with you, and how to avoid going to court.

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You Want to Initiate Fee Arbitration with Your Client

These are the steps you must complete to participate in our Fee Arbitration Program.

  1. You must download and fill out this form to begin your request for arbitration.
    Request by Attorney for Arbitration of a Fee Dispute

    Fill in all requested fields. Follow the instructions to submit your documentation.

  2. If you want to try “Fee Mediation” first, check the box in #10 where indicated. You must also fill out the following form:
    Agreement to Mediate
  3. If you also agree to “Legally Binding Arbitration,” check the box in #11 where indicated, then complete the form below.
    Agreement for Legally Binding Arbitration
  4. If you agree to “Non-binding Arbitration,” then please check the appropriate box in #11, and you do not need to fill out an additional form.
  5. Mail your completed documents and four (4) copies to:

    CCCBA Fee Arbitration Program
    2300 Clayton Road, Suite 502
    Concord, CA 94520

    Please enclose two separate checks made out to CCCBA. One should be for the $150.00 non-refundable processing fee, and the other for the balance of your administrative fee. Please see below.

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Administrative Fee for Filing a Request

Disputed Fee Amount Administrative Filing Fee
Less than $2,999.99 $150.00
$3,000.00 – $4,999.99 $300.00
$5,000.00 – $9,999.99 $450.00
$10,000.00 and over $500.00
plus 2% of amount over $10,000.00
with a maximum of $7,000.00

Your administrative fee (check or money order) should be made out to CCCBA.

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Filing an Automatic Stay

If you have already commenced a civil action to recover your fee’s and/or costs from the client, it is your responsibility to notify the court of an Automatic Stay.

Please follow the instructions from the Business and Professions Code section 6201 (b) and (c):

Instructions for Automatic Stay of Civil Action

Notice of Stay of Proceedings Form

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