Fee Arbitration

Under California statutes and State Bar of California rules, the Placer County Bar Association administers an arbitration program to help resolve disputes between attorneys and clients without anyone having to go to court. The client does not need to be represented by an attorney to use our program. Depending on the nature of the dispute and the wishes of the parties, the arbitration decision may be advisory or binding.

A few common questions are answered here, and more details about the program appear at the end of this page, in several Adobe documents. A free Adobe Reader can be found on the Adobe web site.

What is the Fee Arbitration Program?

Clients have the right to have a neutral party—"an arbitrator"—hear fee disputes with their attorneys. The arbitrator determines whether the fees and costs charged by the attorney are reasonable for the services provided. If a client timely asks for arbitration, the attorney must participate. The program provides an opportunity to have a volunteer arbitrator resolve attorney fee and cost disputes between clients and attorneys through an informal, low-cost alternative to the court system.

How do I Contact the Fee Arbitration Program?

All of the information for filing your documents (including the Attorney's Notice of Right to Arbitrate, which must be sent to the client before the attorney sues a client for fees) is on this page.

The contact information for the program is:

Placer County Bar Association
Fee Arbitration Committee
P.O. Box 4598
Auburn, CA 95604

(916) 557-9181 (message line only; messages will be returned within 24 hours)

How do I request fee arbitration?

You must complete a fee arbitration request form (see below) and submit the filing fee (see below). Attach copies of any documents requested on the form. You should include information that specifically relates to the attorney's fees and costs and explain why you believe the attorney's fees are excessive or that no additional fees are owed.  Follow the instructions set forth on the Instruction Sheet and the Request to Arbitrate and Agreement to Arbitrate form.  Do Not Send by Certified Mail.  If you matter involves fee statements in dispute, attach copies of those fee statements.

How much does it cost?

The initial filing cost depends on the amount of the bill in dispute. You may request a reduction or waiver of the filing fee by filing a written request. Depending on the outcome of the hearing, the arbitrator may require the attorney to pay part or all of the fee. Information about how to file a waiver request is found in the Rules of Procedure, below, Rule 16.0. The filing fees are as follows:

  • $100 for disputes up to $1,000
  • $150 for disputes up to $2,500
  • $250 for disputes up to $5,000
  • $350 for disputes up to $10,000
  • $500 for disputes up to $20,000
  • $1,000 for disputes over $20,000

Form and Rules:

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