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Attorney/Client Fee Dispute Program


Are You Having a Fee Dispute with Your Attorney?

  • Did you receive a bill that you do not agree with?
  • Are there billing charges that you have been disputing with your attorney but because of a communication breakdown you’ve thought of taking the matter to court?
  • Do you feel that you are owed a refund from your attorney?

Before considering taking your attorney to court regarding fees, did you know there is an alternative process that would save you time and money?   

The Fee Dispute Program resolves numerous disagreements regarding Attorney-Client billing disputes and is designed to be client friendly.

Advantages to using this program (43KBPDFPDF)

  • High satisfaction rate among participants
  • No counsel required
  • Confidential
  • Experienced, friendly and helpful staff
  • Convenient
  • Less formality and stress
  • Expedient
  • Good value
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Enforcement assistance

For a detailed description of the legal code that governs attorney/client fee disputes, see: Business and Professions Code (35KBPDFPDF).



  1. Please review the Rules of Procedure (237KBPDFPDF). When you decide that you want to engage our services, please download and fill out: Client's Request Form (137KBPDFPDF)

    Please note that you will be asked to provide a brief description of the dispute and to submit your written fee agreement (if you have one) with the form.

  2. There is an administrative fee for the cost of running this program. The form you downloaded in step #1 will help you determine this fee.

    You must pay this fee when you submit your completed forms. It becomes part of the fee dispute and the arbitrator(s) will allocate responsibility for the fee as part of the award.

    You can pay by check, money order or credit card.
    • Check or Money Order: Make checks or money orders payable to BASF / Fee Dispute Program.
    • Credit Card: If you wish to use a credit card, please download and complete the:
      Client Attorney Credit Card Charge form (11KBPDFPDF).

    Fees are based on the amount in dispute:

    • If the amount is $10,000 or less, then the cost will be 5% of the amount in dispute.
    • If the amount is greater than $10,000, then the cost will be 7% of the amount in dispute.
    The filing fee caps off at $7,000 unless the total amount in dispute is one million dollars ($1,000,000) or more, in which case there is a surcharge of $250 for each million dollars or fraction thereof in excess of the first million dollars.

    See Rule 13.A. Rules of Procedure (595KBPDFPDF) for details about filing fees.

  3. Make five copies of the form you used in Step #1 and mail the original and four copies along with your administrative fee to:
    The Bar Association of San Francisco
    Fee Dispute Program
    301 Battery Street, Third Floor
    San Francisco, California 94111

  4. We then send a copy of the request and a "Reply" form to the attorney and request that they fill it out completely and send five copies to the address above in Step #3.

  5. Both you and your lawyer have the option of going through mediation first. During mediation, both parties work together to come to a resolution that works for everyone.

    Mediation is also:
    • voluntary, and both sides must agree to it
    • less formal, and often takes less time than arbitration
    • usually four hours or less of time involved
    • offered as a benefit covered by your administrative fee

      See Mediation Rules, P. 14 Rules of Procedure (595KBPDF).
  6. If both parties agree to mediation you will be notified of your assigned mediator.

  7. The assigned mediator will contact both parties to set a mediation date.

  8. If you do not resolve your fee dispute in mediation, or if either party decides against mediation, it goes to arbitration.

  9. We will assign and notify you of the arbitrator(s) selected after determining that there is no conflict of interest. You will also be sent a "Request for Hearing Dates" form to help us set up a date that is convenient for you.

  10. Once a date is set, you must show up at the location detailed in the "Notice of Hearing" that will be mailed to you.
  11. Get prepared for your fee dispute arbitration hearing!
    Learn about what you can do to prepare for your hearing.

  12. Once the arbitrator(s) hears both sides of the story he or she takes the matter "under submission." There is no Award issued on this day. The Award will be mailed to you after a final decision has been made.

  13. When you receive the arbitration Award you will also receive Notice of Your Rights After Arbitration (500KBPDFPDF), which will inform you of your next steps.