What is Fee Arbitration?
Fee Arbitration is an alternative means to resolve disputes over fees between attorneys and clients. The process is started by completing and filing a Petition and Agreement (the Fee Arbitration Forms mentioned above). Attorneys or clients may petition for arbitration. If the client submits a Petition, the attorney is notified by our office that his/her client has filed for arbitration of a fee dispute. The attorney then has 21 days to decide if he/she will sign the Agreement and be bound by the decision of the arbitrator(s). Fee Arbitration is not mandatory in Idaho and attorneys are not required to sign the Agreement to participate. Regardless of whether the attorney signs the Agreement, however, the case proceeds to mediation.
Is there a fee for participating in the Idaho State Bar’s Fee Arbitration Program?
The Idaho State Bar offers the Fee Arbitration Program at no cost to the client or the attorney.
Is there a standard fee charged for specific kinds of cases, e.g. divorce, bankruptcy, criminal, etc.?
There is no such thing as a “standard fee” for a particular type of case.
Do I have the right to request an itemized accounting of the fees charged by my attorney?
Upon reasonable request by a client, an attorney is required to provide an accounting of fees and costs claimed or previously collected. (I.R.P.C. 1.5(f)) If you are having a dispute with your attorney regarding fees, you may request an accounting. If, after receiving the accounting, you disagree about the fees or costs, you may wish to submit the dispute to Fee Arbitration.
How do I obtain the forms required to petition for fee arbitration?
The Fee Arbitration Forms are available in PDF format by clicking the button at the top of this page. If you are unable to open and print the PDF version of the forms, contact Bar Counsel’s Office at (208) 334-4500 to request a copy.
Are there rules that govern the fee arbitration process?
Idaho Bar Commission Rules 701-708 govern Fee Arbitration.
What happens during the mediation process?
Each case initiated by a client is assigned to a mediator who then contacts both parties to determine if the fee dispute can be resolved. The mediator is given 30 days to attempt to resolve the dispute. Mediators are assigned from a rotating list of volunteer attorneys. If no settlement is reached and the parties have agreed to binding arbitration, the matter is referred to arbitration. If the attorney has not agreed to binding arbitration and mediation is unsuccessful, the matter is closed and the parties may pursue their own civil remedies, e.g., filing a lawsuit in court.
If my case proceeds to arbitration, what can I expect from that process?
If both parties have agreed to Fee Arbitration, a panel is assigned from a rotating list of volunteer attorneys and non-attorneys in each district. Disputes of $2,500 or less are assigned to a single attorney arbitrator. If the amount in dispute is over $2,500, a panel consisting of two attorneys and one non-attorney is assigned to the matter. A hearing is set within 30 days of the assignment and a decision is issued within 15 days after the hearing. Either party may ask a court of competent jurisdiction to enter a judgment based upon the arbitration decision, if necessary.
If an attorney petitions for Fee Arbitration, is it mandatory for the client to participate?
If an attorney submits a Petition, the client is notified by our office that his/her attorney has filed for arbitration of a fee dispute. The client then has 21 days to decide whether to sign the Agreement and be bound by the decision of the arbitrator(s). If the client refuses or fails to consent to arbitration, the matter will be closed due to lack of agreement and both parties are notified.
If I disagree with the decision of the Arbitration Panel, is there an appeal process?
The Idaho State Bar has no appeal process for Fee Arbitration.
If my attorney and I sign a fee agreement at the beginning of the client/attorney relationship indicating we will submit a fee dispute to the Idaho State Bar, what rules/laws apply to that process?
If a written fee agreement between an attorney and client expressly provides that all fee disputes are to be submitted to the Idaho State Bar’s Fee Arbitration Process for resolution under Section VII of the Idaho Bar Commission Rules, Bar Counsel has determined that the Uniform Arbitration Act, I.C. § 7-901, et seq. applies.