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Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 35, No. 3 June 2014

Some Confessions & A Bit of Wisdom from a Fee Arbitrator

By David S. White

“A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.”
— Abraham Lincoln, Attributed in Bulletin, Lincoln National Life Foundation, 11 July 1949

Give or take, I served as a volunteer Fee Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Mandatory Fee Dispute Arbitration Panel for about 25 years. I stopped serving in that capacity about 6 years ago, when I began accepting employment as an occasional expert witness in attorney – client fee disputes. I write to share both some confessions and a bit of wisdom, gleaned from my experience.

I sat both as an individual arbitrator on fee dispute arbitrations, and, on occasion, as a panelist on a three-arbitrator panel, and in the latter part of the time I served in this capacity, I was generally the Lead Arbitrator of the panel. Helping lawyers and clients resolve fee disputes through conducting arbitrations was my way of ‘giving back’ to the legal community and to the judicial system in which I have made my living as an attorney, in this, now, my 37th year of law practice.

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