Preparing for Your Hearing
Write Everything Down
First, determine what your issue is. It is generally one or both of the following:
- The attorney should not be paid the amount that is requested.
- The attorney should refund a certain amount of money to you.
Next, ask yourself why you believe this.
- Why do you think the attorney shouldn’t get paid?
- Why do you think the attorney should give you a refund?
Write out the reasons for the above as clearly as you can. A simple outline is usually best. It will help you stay focused at the hearing and give you confidence when talking to the mediator or presenting your case to the arbitrator.
Do this in advance so that you have enough time to gather your thoughts and documents.
Documents or Evidence You Should Bring to Your Hearing
- The Fee Agreement—if there was no written fee agreement, then write out what was discussed and what was agreed between you and your lawyer.
- All of the bills your attorney gave to you. If there are specific items in the billing that you disagree with, highlight them.
- Any correspondence or notes between you and the attorney about your dispute. If there are specific items in the correspondence that you feel need extra attention, highlight them.
If you don’t have any of these documents, you should still write down the details as best as you can.
Put all of the documents or your thoughts in chronological order. Number the important things that you want to discuss. This will keep you focused and on track.
Make Copies & Send to the Arbitrator and Your Lawyer
If this is arbitration, you must make copies of your documents and any evidence that you want to submit and send it to the arbitrator and lawyer at least ten (10) days before your hearing.
In arbitration, your lawyer must do the same, so you may be receiving a copy of his or her documentation, too.
If this is mediation, you are not required to send documents and evidence, but it’s a good idea.
Review this information before your hearing. Be prepared!
An arbitrator is a qualified attorney who must meet certain requirements and is trained to be an arbitrator before being assigned to your case.
An arbitrator will gather evidence from both you and your lawyer, listen to your statements, and make a decision. This decision could, or could not, be legally binding.
The arbitrator is a neutral professional and has no financial, official or personal interest in the fee dispute between you and your lawyer.
Most arbitrators are usually lawyers, but there is always one non-lawyer arbitrator on a three-person panel.