Resolution of Fee Disputes

Alex Simon, chair

The Virginia State Bar resolution of fee dispute program (RFD) was created as a voluntary program to help attorneys and clients resolve disputes over fees and costs paid, charged, or claimed for legal services provided by a member of the Virginia State Bar (VSB) through mediation or arbitration. Our program volunteers include 12 circuit chairs, 168 arbitrators, and 48 mediators.

The RFD program benefits VSB members and the public by reducing needless litigation, spurious bar complaints, and Clients’ Protection Fund petitions.  

During FY18-19, the RFD program conducted fee dispute resolution CLEs sponsored by the Henrico County Bar Association and the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association. Plans are underway for fall training which will take place in October 2019 to train new and existing RFD arbitrators and mediators.

The VSB RFD received 209 requests for information during fiscal year 2018-2019.  

Of those 209 requests:

  • Petitioners returned 81 agreements to circuit chairs for processing (60 from clients, 21 from attorneys); 
  • 35 of those agreements were accepted by the respondent; 
  • 15 attorney respondents declined to participate; 
  • 4 cases were settled prior to mediation or arbitration; and 
  • 28 cases went to RFD:  18 cases are complete (8 mediations and 10 arbitrations), 9 mediations and 1 arbitration are pending.

NOTE: Does not include statistics for circuits 9, 15, 19 and 28.

Geographical breakdown of requests:

  • 21% were for attorneys practicing in eastern Virginia (circuits 2, 3/4); 
  • 39% were for attorneys practicing in NOVA (circuits 16, 17/18, 19, 31);
  • 30% were for attorneys practicing in central Virginia (circuits 9/15, 12/13/14); and
  • 10% were for attorneys practicing in south/southwestern Virginia (circuits 10, 23, 24, 28).
Members of the Special Committee on the Resolution of Fee Disputes for 2018-2019 were Alex Simon, chair, Steven G. Owens, vice chair, Alan S. Anderson, Caroline E. Browder, Edward S. Whitlock, III, David A. McKelvey, Robert P. Stenzhorn, Thomas Gallagher, and John J. Mable.  Updated: Oct 30, 2019