By Laura L. Chastain
Have a dispute with your client over your fee? An excellent way to resolve
such a dispute is through a bar association fee dispute committee.
As Disciplinary Counsel, over the years, I have found that many complaints to
the Board of Professional Responsibility are generated by clients who are in a
dispute with their lawyer over their fee. Many such complaints originate after
the lawyer has begun collection remedies.
A good way to avoid such complaints or minimize the likelihood that an
extensive investigation will ensue is to submit the dispute to the arbitration
of a bar association fee dispute committee.
All major areas of the state offer such service through the local bar
association. Nashville, Kingsport, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga bar
associations have fee dispute committees. In May, 2004, the Bristol, Tennessee
Bar Association announced the formation of a fee dispute committee.
It has been my experience that the decisions of these committees are fair to
both lawyer and client and offer an immense service to both. It is a very
worthwhile service of local bar associations and one that bar associations
should consider adding to their list of services to the profession.