Arbitration or mediation in attorney fee disputes

Arbitration or mediation before starting a case

If a client and attorney don’t agree about the attorney’s fee, they usually must go to arbitration before opening a court case. Check your written attorney-client agreement to see if it says you have to go to arbitration if you disagree about fees. If you’re the client you can also say you want to use arbitration before going to court and the attorney has to use arbitration. 

An arbitration decision could become final 

At arbitration, the arbitrator will make a decision called a Notice of Award. Their decision will be permanent (“binding”) if/when: 

  • Immediately if the attorney and client both agreed in writing after the disagreement started that arbitration would be binding. 
  • 30 days after the arbitrator’s decision is mailed and neither the client or attorney has opened a court case to let a judge know they disagree with the decision. 

If you disagree

If you disagree with the arbitrator's decision and didn't sign anything saying it was binding, you must start a court case within 30 days of receiving the decision or else the arbitrator's decision will become final. For more information, read page 2 of form SC-101

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