Fee Arbitration Program
The State Bar of New Mexico Fee Arbitration program provides clients and attorneys with an out-of-court method of resolving fee disputes that is expeditious, confidential, inexpensive, and impartial. This voluntary program can help avoid difficult, lengthy, and often expensive lawsuits. Arbitration can be requested by either the client or attorney. The State Bar offers this fee arbitration program as a free service to the public and to the attorney.
The amounts that can be disputed are:
- Between $1,000 and $25,000 the arbitration will be before a single arbitrator
- Over $25,000 either party may request a panel of three arbitrators
The Fee Arbitration Program has volunteer arbitrators who are attorneys and experienced non-attorneys from throughout New Mexico who donate their time to help resolve fee disputes.
Do I have a valid claim?
You have a valid claim if you have been overcharged for services.
The following are a list of disputes not subject to arbitration:
- Unfavorable outcome of the case;
- Disputes where the client seeks affirmative relief for damages against the attorney based upon alleged malpractice or professional misconduct;
- Disputes where entitlement to and the amount of the fees and/or costs charge or paid to an attorney by the client or on the client’s behalf have been determined by court order, rule or decision, and;
- Disputes where a third person is responsible for payment of the fees and the client fails to join in the request for arbitration.
How do I start the process?
Request the Petition for Fee Arbitration form by calling (505) 797-6060 or download the form
- Read the Fee Arbitration Rules which are included with the petition or download from this web page.
- Please submit one original and two copies of the signed and dated petition and supporting documents if under $25,000
- Please submit one original and four copies of the signed and dated petition and supporting documents if over $25,000.
State Bar of New Mexico
Office of General Counsel
Fee Arbitration Program
PO Box 92860
Albuquerque, NM 87199.
Keep one copy for your records. You have now filed for fee arbitration.
What happens after I petition?
The Petition shall be reviewed to determine if the matter is appropriate for fee arbitration. If it is appropriate, a copy of the petition along with a Respondent Fee Arbitration Agreement will be sent to the respondent. The respondent has 20 business days to return the signed agreement. If both parties agree to arbitrate, a volunteer arbitrator is assigned and the parties will receive a notice of the appointment.
What happens after an arbitrator is assigned?
- A hearing date will be set by the arbitrator. It may be held in person or over the phone. Either party may request a record of the hearing at their own expense.
- At the hearing, both parties may be heard, may be represented by an attorney, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses appearing at the hearing. Remember, however, this is not a trial. Also, if one party does not attend the hearing (either in person, by an attorney or by phone), the arbitrators may still hear and determine the controversy.
- A determination will be made by the arbitrator(s). It will be in writing and signed by the arbitrator(s). The determination becomes effective upon review and filing with the Office of General Counsel. The Program Administrator will mail a copy of the award to each party to the arbitration, and retain the original in the client file.
What happens if the respondent declines to arbitrate?
If the respondent declines arbitration or does not return the signed agreement within 20 business days, he or she is considered to have refused to arbitrate and you will be notified. If arbitration is refused by the respondent, you may wish to consult with an attorney regarding other options available.
The arbitration program is a voluntary program and is not mandatory for either party to participate.
Arbitrations shall be held in accordance with the State Bar of New Mexico Fee Arbitration Rules and the New Mexico Uniform Arbitration Act § 44-7A-1 et. seq. NMSA 1978.