Rules for Attorneys

The Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program assists attorneys who are experiencing fee or cost disputes with clients.

The program offers free arbitration services for all Los Angeles County attorneys and for other attorneys where a substantial portion (at least 50 percent) of the case work took place in the County, by virtue of the client’s location or the attorney’s office.

In order to file a fee arbitration case, specific requirements must be met and some restrictions apply. Once the case is filed, both the attorney and the client must carefully follow established procedures and timelines to undergo Mandatory Fee Arbitration.

This section outlines the process, provides downloadable forms, and explains how attorneys can initiate the BHBA’s Mandatory Fee Arbitration service. Information for clients can be found on the “Mandatory Fee Arbitration Overview for Clients ” page.

Sample Fee Arbitration Clause

If you are initiating or undergoing arbitration now, you may be reminded of the importance of including fee arbitration language in all client/attorney agreements. For your convenience, the Beverly Hills Bar Association has provided a sample fee arbitration clause which may be used in your future contracts.

Requirements

Before an attorney can sue a client for fees, the Business and Professions Code requires that the attorney advise the client of his/her right to fee arbitration. This is done through use of the State Bar Approved Form, Rev. March 2013  Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitrate. The use of this form is mandatory. Incorporation of the same or similar language contained in the Form on independent stationary or in the body of a letter from the attorney to the client is not legally acceptable as a substitute.

Restrictions

Under California law, the attorney cannot initiate the arbitration or compel the client to participate under the process. The only way an attorney can compel a client to arbitrate a fee dispute is if there is a provision (clause) in the fee agreement/retainer, to which all parties agree, that any fee disputes will be submitted to arbitration under Business and Professions Code Sections 6200 through 6206.However, this clause cannot indicate that the arbitration will be binding. Also, parties cannot agree that they will mediate a fee dispute, prior to the dispute over legal fees; the client and attorney can agree to mediation and/or binding arbitration only after the dispute arises.

What Forms Do I Need to Begin?

  • Form B - Notice of Client's Right to Arbitration