Fee Dispute Resolution Program

The Fee Dispute Resolution (FDR) Program is available on a voluntary basis to assist clients who feel they have been overcharged for legal fees by a Missouri lawyer and wish to dispute them. The program offers facilitation, mediation, and binding arbitration to assist the parties in resolving the dispute.

To start the process, the client may complete the FDR petition form and submit it by email, mail or fax. The FDR Committee will review the completed petition form and determine if the program has jurisdiction to open a case.

Rules of the Committee on Fee Dispute Resolution

Advantages of the FDR Program

  • Informal proceedings – less formal than court trials or hearings.
  • Faster resolution – provide a more expedited service than a court case.
  • Confidential proceedings – unlike court cases that may result in a public disclosure.

Cost of FDR Program

There is no charge to either the lawyer or client for using the FDR Program unless another lawyer or a court reporter is
hired.

Mediation & Arbitration

In a mediation session, the mediator(s) will assist the parties to reach an agreement, but will not make a decision. In a binding arbitration hearing, the arbitrator(s) will hear both parties and their witnesses and will make a decision/award, which the parties have agreed to be bound by in advance of the hearing.

Overview of Mediation
Overview of Binding Arbitration

The mediators and arbitrators are volunteers from throughout the state serving the general public in recognition of this public service program. They are lawyers and other non-lawyer professional persons who have experience and have completed training in the areas of mediation and arbitration.

Steps of the FDR Program

Contact the Fee Dispute Resolution Program at The Missouri Bar by writing to PO Box 119, Jefferson City, MO 65102 for a complaint petition form or a copy of the complaint petition form may be downloaded from this website.

Submit the completed complaint petition form to the Fee Dispute Resolution Program at The Missouri Bar.

Upon receipt of the complaint petition form, the FDR Committee will review the matter for jurisdiction. If it is determined the program has jurisdiction, the client and other persons bringing the complaint will be notified by mail that their case has been accepted. The lawyer respondent will be notified that a complaint has been filed and a copy of the complaint petition will be sent to the lawyer respondent.

The client and other person(s) bringing the complaint will be asked to sign a form giving consent to participate in a mediation session and/or binding arbitration hearing within 30 days. If the parties choose both mediation and binding arbitration, they will be asked to specify their first preference. If all parties consent to mediation, one or more mediators will meet jointly with the parties and assist them to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator(s) will not make a decision. If arbitration is selected, the arbitrator(s) will jointly meet with both parties, hear the facts and make a
final decision.

At the same time, the lawyer respondent will be asked to file a written response to the complaint within 30 days. Likewise, the lawyer respondent will be asked to give consent to participate in mediation and/or binding arbitration. If the lawyer does not respond, the case will be assigned to a facilitator who will contact the lawyer about participating in mediation or binding arbitration. The facilitator may also aid in informally resolving the complaint, if appropriate.

The program administrator will arrange for the mediation in a convenient setting for all parties. Mediations may be held virtually, library meeting rooms, court house meeting rooms, or other such settings. The parties have the right to have a different lawyer represent them at the mediation at their expense, but this is not required.

The mediator(s) will hear both sides of the issue and will assist the parties in reaching a satisfactory conclusion. The agreement will be reduced to writing and the parties will sign the document. If the lawyer and client cannot settle the dispute, the parties may request a binding arbitration hearing, but both must give written consent in order to go forward
with binding arbitration.

Typically, one arbitrator will be appointed for disputes in amounts of $10,000 or less. For disputes over $10,000, a panel of three arbitrators will be appointed. At least one member of the arbitration panel will be a lawyer and one member a non-lawyer volunteer; the third member may either be a lawyer or non-lawyer. For good reason, either party may request that one arbitrator be replaced by giving proper notice. Both sides may hire another lawyer to represent them at the hearing at their expense, although this is not required.

If either party fails to appear at the hearing after both have signed the arbitration agreement form, the arbitrators may proceed and enter a binding decision/award. At the hearing, all parties shall be given an equal opportunity to be heard, to present evidence and to cross-examine
witnesses.

The arbitrator(s) will provide a written decision or award within 30 days after the close of the hearing or as soon thereafter as possible. In binding arbitration, the parties will be bound by the arbitrators’ decision whether or not it is in their favor.

In any case in which both the client petitioner and the lawyer respondent signed the consent to binding arbitration form, the decision of the arbitration panel may be enforced by a court of competent jurisdiction according to Chapter 435, RSMo.

Who do I contact for More Information?

Fee Dispute Resolution
The Missouri Bar
PO Box 119
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Telephone: (573) 635-4128
Email: akoelling@mobar.org

Additional Resources

Paid for by the Missouri Bar, Mischa Buford Epps, Executive Director PO Box 119, Jefferson City, MO 65102