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Prepare for Your Attorney/Client Fee Dispute Hearing!

Remember, it is your job to persuade the arbitrator that your lawyer fees should be reduced. You'll do a much better job of presenting your case if you get organized before you go!

Get Organized for Your Hearing

  1. Organize your testimony. You will been given time to tell your side of the story. Think carefully about what to tell the arbitrator(s) to support your argument. Put your ideas in writing before the hearing so that you can refer to them at the hearing.
  2. Witnesses. If you need to bring a witness, find out what you should do when you download and read the:
    Fee Dispute Rules of Procedure (237KB PDF).
  3. Fee agreements. Did you have an oral agreement or a written fee agreement with your lawyer? If so, use this agreement and be specific as to why you are questioning your bill or statement of services.
  4. Organize your documents and make copies. The arbitrator(s) and the attorney you have the dispute with will already have copies of your documents submitted earlier. If you wish to submit additional documentation you must submit copies at least fifteen days before the hearing to your arbitrator(s), BASF, and to the other side. Make sure you make copies for yourself and bring these copies to the hearing.

    Please Note: Do not bring any new material with you to the hearing. You must submit all evidence at least fifteen days before your hearing.

Here's What Will Happen at the Hearing

  1. The arbitrator may administer an oath to all individuals to tell the truth.
  2. Usually you will testify first about why you are disputing your lawyer's fee. Your testimony should be simple, factual and directly related to the disputed bill.
  3. Present your witnesses. The arbitrator(s) might ask the witnesses questions.
  4. Your lawyer then gets a chance to ask you questions about your testimony.
  5. Then it is your lawyer's turn to give his or her testimony and present any witnesses.
  6. Feel free to take notes for when it is your turn to question your lawyer.
  7. The arbitrator may question both of you.
  8. Both parties get a chance to sum things up. During this time, do not interrupt or speak when the other side talks.
  9. Refrain from personal attacks; do not reference matters outside the relationship, or matters for which there is no evidence or based on assumptions.
  10. After the hearing is over, the arbitrator takes the matter "under submission" and closes the hearing.

You will not get a decision (referred to as an "Award") on the day of the hearing. The Award will be mailed to you after a final decision has been made.

This Award will also include information called "Notice of Your Rights After Arbitration." It will answer many questions about protecting your rights after arbitration.

Please Note: You may not call or write your arbitrator after the hearing. They will be unable to help you. If you have any questions please call: ADR Services at (415) 982-1600.