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Rule 3 Arbitrators

  1. List of Approved Arbitrators. The Commission shall maintain a list of approved arbitrators and shall adopt written standards for the appointment of the arbitrators. Such standards should ensure appropriate training and experience for arbitrators as well as diversity in the background and experience of the arbitrators. Arbitrators shall be appointed for terms of [three] years and may be reappointed. For good cause, the Commission may remove an arbitrator from the list of approved arbitrators, and may appoint a replacement member to serve the balance of the term of the removed member.

  2. Panels. The Commission shall appoint panels from the list of approved arbitrators. For disputes involving [$7,500] or more, the panel shall consist of three arbitrators of whom one shall be a nonlawyer member. For disputes involving less than [$7,500], or in any case if the parties so stipulate, the panel shall consist of a sole arbitrator who shall be a lawyer. If the panel consists of three members, the Commission shall designate one member to act as Chair of the panel and to preside at the arbitration hearing.

  3. Conflicts of Interest. Within [five] days of the notification of appointment to a panel, an arbitrator shall notify the Commission of any conflict of interest with a party to the arbitration as defined in the ABA Code of Judicial Conduct with respect to part-time judges. Upon notification of the conflict, the Commission shall appoint a replacement from the list of approved arbitrators.

  4. Challenges for Cause. A party may challenge any arbitrator for cause. A challenge for cause naming the arbitrator and the reason for the challenge shall be filed within [fifteen] days after service of the notice of appointment. An arbitrator shall accede to a reasonable challenge and the Commission shall appoint a replacement. If an arbitrator does not voluntarily accede, the Commission shall decide whether to appoint a replacement. The decision of the Commission on challenges shall be final.

  5. Duties. The panel shall have the following powers and duties.

    (1) to take and hear evidence pertaining to the proceeding;
    (2) to administer oaths and affirmations;
    (3) to compel, by subpoena, the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and documents pertaining to the proceeding, and consider challenges to the validity of subpoenas;
    (4) to issue decisions; and
    (5) to perform all acts necessary to conduct an effective arbitration hearing.


The Commission appoints both lawyers and nonlawyers to serve as arbitrators for [three] year renewable terms, and maintains a list of approved arbitrators. When a Petition is received, the Commission appoints from the list of approved arbitrators a panel of one or three arbitrators to hear the matter, depending on the amount in dispute. For larger jurisdictions, the Commission may hire staff or designate a presiding arbitrator to handle the appointment of panels or other administrative tasks as delegated by the Commission. The number of people on the list of approved arbitrators should not be so large as to prevent the participating arbitrators fromobtaining sufficient experience in the program.

Appointments to the list of approved arbitrators should represent all segments of the profession and the general population, including diversity on the basis of race, gender and practice setting. Arbitrators should also be dispersed throughout the state to increase access to the fee arbitration process.

The Commission should adopt written standards for appointment of arbitrators which may include compliance with training requirements, ability to meet minimum time and case commitments, years in practice and experience. All panels of more than one arbitrator should include one nonlawyer member.

Members of panels exercise a quasi-judicial role and should, therefore, be disqualified upon the same grounds and conditions applicable to judges. The Commission may wish to provide that within [fifteen] days after service of the notice of appointment, any party may file one peremptory challenge. In the event of such a challenge, the Commission should relieve the challenged arbitrator and appoint a replacement.

Panels do not render advisory opinions but, rather, adjudicate fee controversies between lawyers and clients.

In jurisdictions with a high volume of arbitration cases, consideration should be given to having pre-set arbitration panels which meet at specified times to simplify the scheduling of hearings.


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Center for Professional Responsibility