New Attorney Fee Dispute Resolution Rules approved
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Posted by: Susan Ferrer
By Hon. Elaine B. Brown, Indiana Court of Appeals
As a follow-up to the article that appeared in the April 2016 issue of Res Gestae, the Attorney Fee Dispute Resolution (AFDR) Committee is pleased to report that the ISBA Board of Governors has approved the Committee’s proposed rules, and the rules are now final. They are posted on the ISBA website at www.inbar.org (under “Committees”) along with a downloadable form for initiating the process of binding arbitration through the program. The new rules apply to fee disputes received by the ISBA after June 1 and provide a structure for binding arbitration between ISBA members with offices in Indiana and their clients; between ISBA members who have agreed to share fees; between attorneys in Indiana and those in other states who have agreed to share fees; and between members of another state’s bar and their clients who are Indiana residents or have their principal place of business in Indiana.
The fee dispute program is a free, added benefit to ISBA membership, and there is no cost to attorneys or clients to participate. The 3-member panels of arbitrators are unpaid, volunteer attorneys who sit in each of six geographical districts of the state. The ISBA serves as the clearinghouse and provides all administrative services.
Disciplinary Commission Executive Secretary Mike Witte is supportive of the program; in fact, all requests for participation received as of the date of this writing have been direct referrals from the Disciplinary Commission.
As an additional benefit, Committee members are currently reviewing sample fee agreements to make available on the website for attorneys to use as a guide for drafting their own fee agreements – the goal being to reduce the number of fee disputes that may otherwise arise when there is no written agreement.
The Committee is also happy to announce that the ISBA Litigation Section has approved a 45- to 60-minute presentation of the new rules as part of the agenda for its 2nd Annual Training Camp for Litigators Aug. 26 at the Alexander Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. More information about this daylong CLE event is available at the State Bar website calendar, www.inbar.org.