Fee Arbitration

Representation When You Try to Recover Excess Fees from Your Former Attorney

I am one of a small number of attorneys in California who represents clients at mandatory fee arbitration hearings.

The legal basis for recovering fees from a lawyer who represented you in the past is well defined by an extensive body of law. Most clients lose fee arbitration hearings because they don't know the law. Going in and arguing on your own behalf that your former lawyer charged you too much will only exacerbate the problem, because you'll lose the fee arbitration and be out the fee you had to pay your local bar association to provide the arbitration hearing.

During a free initial consultation, I will examine your situation, and advise you on your chances of success. If you retain me, I will submit a legal brief to the arbitrator, then prepare exhibits to present and you to testify at the hearing. At the hearing, I will represent you, guiding you through your testimony, putting on exhibits, cross-examining your former attorney, and countering his arguments.

Prospective clients in this area have asked if I would have any problems opposing another attorney during a fee arbitration hearing. My answer is no. I do not consort with known attorneys, so as to ensure that my relations with brothers and sisters of the Bar are always adversarial. When prospective clients tell me they have heard that sharks don't attack other sharks, I tell them I'm an orca (killer whale).

In its Frequently Asked Questions about fee arbitrations, the State Bar states, "You may be represented by an attorney, but it is not necessary." [ See here.] That's terrible advice. The panel that will decide the outcome of the arbitration hearing consists of one lawyer, or two lawyers and a civilian, depending on the size of the refund you are seeking. The lawyers will be members of the same bar association as your former lawyer. They may not know the law on which the decision must be based. You certainly don't know the law on which the decision must be based. If you are going to invest the time and money trying to recover fees from a lawyer who represented you previously, you need to be represented by an attorney who knows the law on which the fee arbitration ruling must be based and who can instruct the hearing panel on that law and relate the facts of your case to the law to try to convince the panel to award you the maximum refund allowed by law.

Contact Me

To schedule a free initial consultation, call me at (805) 845-8223, or email me at mjdeniro7cox.net (please replace the "7" with the "at symbol"), or Click to send me an e-mail.

During the initial consultation, I will gather the relevant facts from you to determine if I can offer legal services that might help you, and then, if you want me to, I will send you a fee agreement showing how much those services would cost you.

I will not offer affirmative advice - do this, don't do that - during the initial consultation. I only do that once you become my client. I don't review documents prior to the initial consultation, I only do that once you become my client. And finally, if your matter does not involve the application of California law or of Federal law to a matter that arose in California, I will inform you during the initial consultation that I cannot provide any advice because by doing so I would be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, which is forbidden by the Rules of Professional Conduct of the California State Bar.

The use of the Internet for communications with me will not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please note that messages containing confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent. Pursuant to Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1-400, the matter herein must be labeled as a newsletter.


Cumberland County Justice Center seal, in floor tiles, Burksville, Kentucky

Copyright @ Michael J. DeNiro