Indigent Defense Program

Fee Arbitration Program

If you have a dispute arising out of fees paid to your attorney or fees that your attorney says you owe, the Kern County Bar Association provides an informal, confidential and low-cost alternative forum for resolving your fee dispute. Either a client or an attorney may file for Fee Arbitration through the KCBA Fee Arbitration Program, but the process is mandatory for attorneys should a client file.

In order to file a Request for Arbitration with the KCBA, you must read over our current Rules of Procedure. After you have read and understand the Rules, the filing party must complete the Request for Arbitration form and submit it to the KCBA. If you were sent a “Notice of Your Rights to Arbitration” from your attorney, you have 30 days from the date of that letter to file your Request for Arbitration. If you file late, or your Request for Arbitration is not complete by the deadline, you will be ineligible for Mandatory Fee Arbitration.

Along with your Request for Arbitration form, you should submit copies of your written retainer agreement, Notice of Your Rights to Arbitration (if applicable), bills or statements, and any other evidence or statements you would like to have forwarded to an arbitrator. After submitting your Request for Arbitration, your attorney will be notified that there is a request in process, and will be provided a copy of your completed Request for Arbitration. They will have 30 days in which to respond to your original Request for Arbitration. You will receive a copy of their response.

After the response is received (or after the 30 day deadline has passed, whichever comes first), your case will be assigned to a third-party volunteer arbitrator. If the disputed amount in the case is greater than $10,000, your case will be heard by a three-person arbitration panel, consisting of two attorneys and one non-attorney panelist. The arbitrator(s) will be responsible for setting the date of the hearing, arbitrating the hearing, and ultimately determining an award in the case.

Our program offers both binding and non-binding arbitration. There is a non-refundable base filing fee of $50, PLUS an additional case fee of 5% of the disputed amount, for filing a Request for Fee Arbitration. While the $50 base filing fee is non-refundable and non-waivable, a limited number of fee waivers are available to defray or eliminate the cost of the case filing fee. These waivers are granted on an individual case-by-case basis.

If you feel that Fee Arbitration is the right choice for you, please complete the Request for Arbitration form listed below. Also, make sure that you have read and understood the Rules of Procedure listed below prior to filing with the KCBA Fee Arbitration Rules of Procedure. If you feel that you would qualify for a fee waiver, please submit the Fee Waiver Request listed below along with your other forms.

If you have any questions about the Fee Arbitration process, are unclear about any of the current Rules of Procedure, or would like to speak with someone regarding your rights and responsibilities under the Fee Arbitration program, please feel free to call the Fee Arbitration Coordinator at (661) 334-4700.

Attorneys: If you are interested in filing for Fee Arbitration against a client, please fill out the Attorney’s Request for Fee Arbitration form.