Volunteers interested in serving on the SMCBA’s Fee Dispute Panel may choose to volunteer as an arbitrator and/or mediator.  Click here to view the Guidelines & Minimum Qualifications of Arbitrators and here to view the application

The Fee Dispute Program allows clients and lawyers to settle fee disputes through mediation or arbitration. This Program is mandated by California Business & Professions Code sections 6200-6206,  Excerpts of the relevant sections can be found on the State Bar of California’s Mandatory Fee Arbitration website, along with Arbitration Advisories issued by the State Bar’s Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration. Also, the State Bar provides sample fee agreements for your use.

If you are having a dispute with your client over fees, we may be able to help. Your dispute can be arbitrated and/or mediated if legal services were rendered in San Mateo County, or if your office is located in San Mateo County.

Both you and your client have the option of going through mediation, prior to going to arbitration. Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party helps resolve a dispute. The mediator does not have the power to impose a decision on the parties. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, the parties’ case will go to arbitration.

A neutral arbitrator will review the facts and decide on the appropriate attorney’s fees in a comfortable and low-cost setting.

An attorney may initiate the Fee Dispute process by filing the Request for Arbitration of a Fee Dispute Application with the SMCBA along with the required filing fee, and serving a copy of the Request on the client.  The SMCBA will retain the Request until client’s time to respond has expired.

Attorney’s must use the Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitrate form if the attorney intends to take legal action to collect fees due.

If attorney has filed a lawsuit against his/her client, please notify the County where it was filed with the completed Automatic Stay Notice Form.

For more information, contact the Fee Dispute Program Coordinator at FeeArb@smcba.org.


Instructions and Information for Request to Arbitrate Fee Dispute

Request for Arbitrate a Fee Dispute Form (Petitioner’s Request)

Rules of Procedure for Hearing of Fee Arbitrations

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers 

Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitrate Form

Procedure for Automatic Stay; Automatic Stay Form

Procedure for Subpoenas; Subpoena Form

Waiver of Personal Appearance

State Bar of California Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program

*The San Mateo County Bar Association’s Fee Arbitration Program has adopted new Rules of Procedure for Fee Arbitrations.  Please read over them.