Attorney Fee Disputes

The Sacramento County Bar Association administers an arbitration program to assist clients in resolving fee disputes with their attorneys without going to court. The client does not need to be represented by an attorney to use the arbitration program. For questions or additional information, please contact SCBA Martha Fenchen at 916/604-9726 or

California Business and Professions Code sections 6200 to 6206 govern fee arbitration. Section 6200 provides that when a client requests fee arbitration, the attorney is required to participate. As of January 1997, an attorney can compel a client to arbitrate if the fee agreement includes an arbitration clause.


Mandatory Arbitration / Client’s Right To Arbitrate

The attorney must serve the client with a Notice of Client’s Right to Arbitration either before or at the time of filing a suit or any other proceeding (including arbitration in another forum) for the recovery of fees or costs or both. If the attorney does not serve the client with the Notice, it is grounds to dismiss the action. If the attorney serves the client with a notice that does not substantially comply to the Notice approved by the State Bar, which is also grounds to dismiss the action.


Client’s Waiver of Right to Arbitrate

A client waives the right to arbitration (assuming that the client has received the proper Notice) by either filing an answer in a suit or other proceeding, or by not requesting arbitration within 30 days of the time that the client received the Notice of Client’s Right to arbitrate.

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