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Fee Disputes

If you think your lawyer's bill contains an error or something that you did not agree to, you should contact the lawyer immediately and try to resolve the problem directly. If you cannot resolve your problem, many state and local bar associations offer fee arbitration programs.

Arbitration panels and committees offer an out-of-court forum to settle disputes between lawyers and their clients. Generally, arbitration is a simpler process than going to court. Typically, either party, the client or lawyer involved in a fee dispute, can request arbitration by writing the appropriate authority. Both parties need to agree to the process.

If you suffered a loss due to the conduct of a lawyer, you may be entitled to recover some of your losses through a client trust fund established in association with a state bar or through a state court. Typical losses reimbursed by the such funds include the theft of estate and trust assets, escrow deposits in real property transactions, settlements in personal injury litigation, debt collection receipts, money embezzled in investment transactions with law clients, and unearned fees paid in advance to lawyers who falsely promise their legal services.

A Directory of Client Protection Funds [PDF] lists contacts for Client Protection Funds in the states where such funds are established.

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