Fee Disputes: Lawyer-Client

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Fee Disputes Committee was created to resolve out of court disagreements about fees between clients and lawyers. This is a free service of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

The Lawyer-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program offers two methods to help clients and attorneys resolve their disagreements. Those two methods are mediation and arbitration.

If you and the responding party choose mediation only, an impartial mediator would act as a facilitator, assisting you and the responding party in negotiating a settlement. The mediator does not issue a decision or force a compromise. Rather, you and the responding party will be encouraged to modify your positions in order to settle the dispute. If a settlement is reached, the involvement of the Fee Disputes Committee is concluded.

If you and the responding party choose arbitration only, the case will be decided by a sole arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, depending upon the amount of money in dispute. An informal hearing will be held and both you and the responding party will have the opportunity to testify and present evidence. The decision will be binding. This means that the award is final and may not be appealed to any court of law.

If you and the responding party choose both mediation and arbitration, the case will be assigned to an impartial mediator. If an agreement is reached, the matter is concluded. If an agreement is not reached, the dispute is assigned to a sole arbitrator or panel of arbitrators for an informal hearing and final binding decision.

If the responding party does not agree to either mediation or binding arbitration, the Committee will close the case. The Fee Disputes Committee does not have any legal authority to require a responding party to participate in this program. If the responding party does not agree to participate, you may wish to pursue your remedies at law.

Please note that the responding party is free to make a counterclaim against you involving the same fee dispute

Any party may bring a lawyer or other person to the hearing for assistance.

Please take the time to review the Rules of the Rules of the Lawyer-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program. A fee dispute is begun by at least one party submitting to the Fee Disputes Committee a set of forms, consisting of a completed Fee Dispute Petition and either a completed and signed Agreement to Submit to Common Law Arbitration or a completed and signed Agreement to Proceed to Mediation or both. Please note that it is not necessary to obtain the signature of the opposing party prior to filing a fee dispute. The completed forms should be emailed to feedisputes@philabar.org.

For more information about this program, contact Charles J. Klitsch, Director of Public and Legal Services, Philadelphia Bar Association, at 215-238-6326 or cklitsch@philabar.org.