Arbitration- an out-of-court informal forum that is held with neutral third parties serving as the arbitrators. They are usually members of the community that are trained in legal fee disputes. Both the attorney in question and the client provide documents and evidence to support each of their claims and afterwards the arbitrators decide how much they feel the fee should be. Arbitration can be either non-binding or binding
- Binding Arbitration- a final decision has been made and both parties must abide by the decision that has been made.
- Non-binding Arbitration- the arbitrators have provided a recommendation for both parties; however this recommendation may become final if it is not disputed within a certain amount of days
If a client calls for the fee dispute then the lawyer must be present in fee arbitration. However, if the lawyer calls for a fee dispute, the client does not necessarily need to participate. This varies by state, some states participate in binding arbitration while others call for voluntary arbitration. Usually fee arbitration is available at little to no cost, this also depends on the state.
Mediation- Your lawyer might be able to call for a mediation session instead of fee dispute arbitration or you may participate in both. Mediation is more informal than arbitration and usually calls for a negotiation between you and your lawyer. If the two of you cannot reach a decision in mediation then the case can move to arbitration or court.
If a lawyer decides to take you to court, then he must give you a notice and an opportunity to settle the dispute in arbitration instead. If arbitration is not called for within a certain amount of days, then the case will move to court.