If you have a dispute with your attorney regarding fees you still owe, or fees you have already paid, you are entitled to file a Request for Arbitration with the Glendale Bar Association to have an individual or a panel of arbitrators decide whether the fees you have been charged are reasonable and appropriate.
Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program (MFA)
The Glendale Bar Association is certified by the State Bar of California to sponsor a local Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program. The State Bar provides fee arbitration only when there is no suitable local bar program.
Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program (MFA) is an informal, confidential and lower cost forum for resolving fee disputes between lawyers and their clients. MFA arbitration is mandatory for the lawyer if the client requests arbitration.
If your attorney served you with an approved “Notice of Your Right to Arbitrate,” you have 30 days from the date of the Notice to file your request for arbitration. If the 30-day period has passed you have waived your right to compel your attorney to arbitrate through this program and the attorney can file a court action against you to collect the fee, unless your attorney voluntarily agrees to arbitrate the fee through the Mandatory Fee Arbitration program.
If you did not receive the written Notice of your right to arbitrate on the State Bar mandated form, and the attorney filed an action in court against you, you can still file for arbitration and have the case stayed (frozen) until the arbitration case has been heard.
After the hearing, the arbitrator/arbitrators will issue a decision entitled “Findings and Award”. You will probably not be advised of the decision at the time of the hearing. If the arbitrator issues an award in your favor and orders the attorney to pay you, and he does not, the State Bar will help you collect the award at no cost.
A fee arbitration award is not binding on the parties unless:
1. Both attorney and client agree that the award shall be binding,
2. Neither party initiates a court proceeding or private arbitration proceeding (if required by contract) within 30 days of the service of the Arbitration Award.
Jurisdiction for the Glendale Bar Fee Arbitration Program
If at least one of the attorneys involved in the dispute has an office in Los Angeles County or maintained an office in Los Angeles County at the times the services were rendered, or where the majority of legal services were provided, the Client may select the Glendale Bar Association program for Mandatory Fee Arbitration. We cannot arbitrate matters involving incarcerated clients.
5% of amount in dispute. $50 minimum, $5,000 maximum-
1 arbitrator for $10,000 or less
3 arbitrators for over $10,000