California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - February 2000
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News Briefs
Appeal court denies bar's petition to reverse Brosterhous
Fee bill introduced
Bar fee arb program gears up
David Bryson, Loren Miller recipient, dies at 58
Board to name one to Judicial Council
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You Need to Know
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From the President - For our system to work, we need to be involved
Let's let public lawyers take a seat at the table
The illusion of a cosmetic fix
Letters to the Editor
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MCLE Self-Study
The Supreme Court and the ADA
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Access commission seeks members for 2 positions
Apply to serve on a bar committee
Bar seeks applicants for ABA delegates
Judge evaluation positions open
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Ethics Byte - 'Rampant' conflicts in a new economy
Attorney suspected of soliciting murder of bar prosecutor
Attorney Discipline
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Legal Tech - If the hype is right, ASPs are H-O-T
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Public Comment
Bar fee arb program gears up
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The State Bar’s fee arbitration program, dormant for more than a year, has a new lease on life and is looking for volunteer arbitrators.

“There’s a real incentive to join the program because people who are interested in arbitration can get eperience and it will definitely transfer to other areas of the law,” says new program director Jill Sperber.

Both clients and attorneys can seek fee arbitration from the State Bar if there is no local bar program or if there is a conflict of interest.

About 300 arbitrators participate in the bar’s program, but there is a dearth of volunteers in sparsely populated counties, particularly rural northern and central California. Twenty-two counties have no arbitrators, 10 have only one, and five more counties have only two arbitrators.

Volunteers also are needed to handle fee disputes in criminal cases, particularly in Los Angeles.

Volunteers will receive training from the bar. They schedule hearings with the parties and conduct the arbitration; the only issue arbitrators are asked to resolve is the fee dispute.

The bar currently has about 135 matters awaiting assignment to arbitrators. Sperber said the program also is again accepting requests to enforce arbitration awards obtained at either the local or state level.

Parties with a fee dispute generally take the matter to a local bar program, if there is one. If not, they can seek help from the State Bar.

If the disputes involves more than $10,000, the parties may request a hearing by a three-member panel.

If the client wins the fee arbitration, the attorney is mandated to honor the award. Failure to do so can lead to penalties attached to bar dues, or in a worst case scenario, the loss of a law license.

Prior to the shutdown of the State Bar’s fee arbitration program, which resulted from former Gov. Pete Wilson’s 1997 veto of the bar’s fee bill, it assigned more than 2,500 matters to arbitration.

Volunteers should call 415/538-2026.