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  1. Appointment of Commission. The [state's highest court] shall appoint a Fee Arbitration Commission to administer the Fee Arbitration Program. The [highest court of the jurisdiction] shall designate one member to serve as chair of the Commission.

  2. Composition. The Commission shall consist of [nine] members of whom one-third shall be nonlawyers. Members shall be appointed for terms of three years or until a successor has been appointed. Appointments shall be on a staggered basis so that the number of terms expiring shall be approximately the same each year. No members shall be appointed for more than two consecutive full terms, but members appointed for less than a full term (either originally or to fill a vacancy) may serve two full terms in addition to such part of a term.

  3. Duties of the Commission. The Commission shall have the following powers and duties.

    (1) to appoint, remove and provide appropriate training for lawyer and nonlawyer arbitrators and arbitration panels;
    (2) to interpret these rules;
    (3) to approve forms;
    (4) to establish written procedures that afford a full and equal opportunity to all parties to present relevant evidence;
    (5) to issue an annual report and periodic policy recommendations, as needed, to the [highest court of the jurisdiction] regarding the program;
    (6) to maintain all records of the Fee Arbitration Program;
    (7) to determine challenges for cause where an arbitrator has not voluntarily acceded to a challenge;
    (8) to educate the public and the bar about the Fee Arbitration Program; and
    (9) to perform all acts necessary for the effective operation of the program.

Overall authority to administer the Fee Arbitration Program is delegated by the highest court of the jurisdiction to the Commission. Both lawyers and nonlawyer members serve on the Commission. Members are appointed by the court for three year terms. The court should ensure diversity in the membership of the Commission.

Members may be appointed for a period not to exceed two consecutive full terms and a portion of an additional term, if appointed originally to less than a full term. A rotation system is employed in the appointment of members so that, generally, the terms of one-third of the members expire annually. This procedure preserves continuity while inviting the fresh ideas which new personnel inevitably bring to a task.

The Commission has the duty to inform the bar and the public about the Fee Arbitration Program through such means as brochures, public service announcements, and any other means available. There should be a central place where the public can call with questions about lawyers and which can refer appropriate matters to the Fee Arbitration Program. Members of the bar should be encouraged to inform any member of the public known to have a fee dispute with a lawyer about the right to seek fee arbitration or to pursue other available means to resolve the dispute, such as mediation.

Depending on funding, pro bono requirements, and other considerations, the Commission may authorize the reimbursement of reasonable costs and expenses to its members and to arbitrators. In larger jurisdictions, the Commission may employ staff to perform functions delegated by the Commission. The Commission can authorize local bar associations to sponsor and conduct fee arbitration programs. However, a client who believes he or she may not be able to obtain a fair resolution at the local level should be permitted to utilize the statewide program.


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Center for Professional Responsibility