Fee Arbitration Program Policies

Statement of Policy

It is a policy of the Columbus Bar Association to encourage arbitration of disputes about legal fees between attorneys and their clients. When the CBA receives an inquiry regarding a fee dispute, it will be reviewed by the staff of the Professional Responsibility Department of the Columbus Bar Association to determine whether the matter is the proper subject for fee arbitration. (Note: Disputes regarding claims of malpractice or ethical violations are not appropriate for fee arbitration.)

Fee Arbitration

If it appears that informal attempts to resolve the fee dispute have not been successful, the CBA will provide both parties to the dispute with a copy of the Rules and Bylaws, together with an “Agreement to Arbitrate Fees." As soon as the parties sign and return the Agreement, the matter will be forwarded to the Chairperson of the Fee Arbitration Committee.

A panel of arbitrators will be appointed to hear each matter as follows:

  1. If the matter in controversy is ($5,000) Five Thousand Dollars or less, one member of the committee;
  2. If the matter in controversy is more than ($5,000) Five Thousand Dollars but less than ($50,000) Fifty Thousand Dollars, two members of the committee;
  3. If the matter in controversy is ($50,000) Fifty Thousand Dollars or more, three members of the committee.

Each panel shall have at least one attorney member, unless otherwise agreed by the parties involved. Where a panel of two or more arbitrators is appointed, every attempt will be made to include at least one non-attorney on the panel.

The parties will be notified of the time and place of the fee arbitration hearing. The CBA will make every reasonable effort to accommodate the schedules of the parties and the selected arbitrators.

Conduct at the Fee Arbitration Hearing

The attorney will first offer evidence. At the conclusion of that evidence, the client will offer evidence. There will be an opportunity for each party to offer evidence by way of rebuttal or surrebuttal. The Arbitrator(s) will not be bound by the usual common law or statutory rules of evidence. In most cases, fee arbitration will last no more than two hours.

The Columbus Bar Association will not record the proceedings. A party, however, may elect to arrange for recording at his/her own expense.

Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 2711 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Arbitrators may administer oaths for affirmations to witnesses, fix the time and place of their hearings, or adjourn their meetings from day to day, or for a longer time, and also from place to place and may subpoena any person to attend before any of them as a witness and in a proper case to bring with him any book, record, document or paper which is deemed materials as evidence in the case.


If any person so subpoenaed to testify refuses or neglects to obey the subpoena, upon a petition of the Court of Franklin County Common Pleas, the Arbitrators may compel the attendance of the person before the Arbitrators, or punish the person for contempt in the same manner provided for securing the attendance of witnesses or their punishment for neglect or refusal to attend in the court.

Testimony of witnesses will be taken under oath only if requested by one of the parties to the arbitration. The fees for attendance by witnesses will be the same as fees for witnesses in the Court of Common Pleas.

The award made in such Arbitration proceedings must be in writing and must be signed by all arbitrators. A true copy of the award will be delivered without delay to each of the parties.

The Arbitration Award will be subject to confirmation, enforcement, modification, correction or vacation in accordance with Chapter 2711 of the Ohio Revised Code.

NOTE: It is very important that you advise the Columbus Bar Association of any changes in address and/or telephone numbers.