General Public
Part 137 Fee Dispute Resolution Program (FDRP)

The New York County Lawyers Association’s Fee Dispute Resolution Program exists pursuant to the requirements of 22 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 137 (Part 137), which provides for the informal and expeditious resolution of fee disputes between attorneys and clients through arbitration or mediation. The goal is to provide a private and economical means of resolving disputes in an atmosphere of mutual understanding. Under the auspices of the Office of Court Administration, Part 137 programs exist throughout the State—NYCLA’s Part 137 Program generally handles matters related to New York and/or Bronx Counties. 

For the complete Part 137 rules, click here .  
For our complete Local Program Rules, click here  .  

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Which fee disputes will your Program handle?

NYCLA’s Part 137 Program will hear fee disputes when:

     1. The attorney has commenced representation of the client on or after January 1, 2002;
     2. The attorney is admitted to the bar of the State of New York; AND
     3. A material part of the legal services were rendered OR the lawyer maintains an office in Bronx and/or New York Counties.

Are there any kinds of fee disputes that your Program will not handle?

NYCLA’s Part 137 Program will NOT hear fee disputes when:
1. The legal representation involved representation in criminal matter(s);
2. Amounts in dispute of less than $1,000 or more than $50,000, unless both parties have consented;
3. Disputes involve substantial legal questions, including professional malpractice or misconduct;
4. Disputes involve claims against an attorney for damages or affirmative relief other than the amount of the fee;
5. Disputes where the fee to be paid has been determined by statute or rule and allowed as of right by the court, or where the fee has been determined by court order;
6. Disputes where no attorney’s services have been rendered for more than two years;
7. Disputes where the request is made by a person who is not the client of the attorney or the legal representative of the client;
8. Disputes where the attorney and client consented to submit fee disputes for final and binding arbitration to an arbitral forum other than an arbitral body created by Part 137.

Does your Program conduct mediations?

Yes!  Section 137.12 of Part 137 strongly encourages local Programs to offer mediation services.  Right now, NYCLA’s Part 137 Program is the only Program in the State that offers such services.

What is mediation?

Mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a procedure in which the parties discuss their disputes with the assistance of a trained impartial third person who assists them in potentially reaching a settlement. The mediator does not make any official decisions regarding the fee dispute, but rather facilitates discussion through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques.  

Is mediation voluntary?

Yes.  Our Fee Dispute filing and response forms allow parties to opt to begin with mediation.  Both parties must consent to participate in mediation, otherwise the fee dispute will move directly to arbitration.

What happens if we cannot reach settlement during mediation?

If the parties are unable to reach a settlement during mediation, your case will move to arbitration.

Will mediation proceedings or settlement discussions play into an arbitration proceeding?

No.  All mediation proceedings and settlement discussions and offers of settlement are confidential and may not be disclosed in any subsequent arbitration.  In addition, your assigned mediator will not arbitrate your fee dispute.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a private process where an independent trained third party (or third party tribunal) hears a dispute between parties.  Unlike in mediation, arbitrator(s) have the authority to issue an ‘arbitration award’ which is legally binding.

When does it mean for an arbitration award to be legally binding?

An arbitration award will be final and binding on both sides, unless a party seeks a trial de novo within 30 days of the issuance of the arbitration award.  This means that if the party against whom the award has been rendered does not pay the arbitration award, the party seeking payment can seek confirmation of the arbitration award under CPLR 7510, to enter it as an enforceable judgment of the court.  

What is a trial de novo?

Within 30 days after the award has been issued to the parties, either party may reject the arbitration award by filing a court action on the merits of the fee dispute.  The arbitration award will not be admitted into evidence and the arbitrator(s) will not be called as witnesses at a trial de novo.

Are mediations/arbitrations confidential?

Yes.  All proceedings conducted in this Program are confidential, except to the extent necessary to take ancillary legal action with respect to a fee matter.

Are there filing fees to initiate a fee dispute?

Yes. Both parties to a mediation/arbitration are required to pay a filing fee, which is determined based on the amount of money in dispute.  The filing fee tiers are outlined in our Local Program Rules, which are subject to change.  Before filing a fee dispute, please make sure to check our latest Local Program Rules.  Filing fees are currently accepted by check or money order.  We are working on an electronic method payment system and will update our website information when that is available.

Is participation in the Part 137 Fee Dispute Resolution Program mandatory?

Unless the attorney and client have otherwise consented in advance to submit fee disputes to a different forum, participation in the Part 137 Fee Dispute Resolution Program is mandatory for an attorney if requested by a client.  An attorney who fails to participate in the arbitration process, without good cause, shall be referred to the appropriate grievance committee of the Appellate Division for appropriate action.

In some instances, an attorney and client may have a pre-existing agreement (such as in a retainer agreement), to engage in arbitration or mediation through the Part 137 Program.  

How do I file a fee dispute?

New fee disputes and responses to filed disputes are accepted via electronic mail at FeeDisputeAdmin@nycla.org. Fee Disputes are no longer accepted by mail, unless a special arrangement is made with the NYCLA Part 137 Fee Dispute Program Administrator. Note that no fee dispute will be processed without receipt of the requisite filing fee.  For more details on how to file a fee dispute, please click here  .

Do I need a lawyer to represent me at a mediation/arbitration?

No.  You are free to attend these proceedings without counsel.  If you wish, you may have a lawyer represent you.  

For Rules and Forms for Fee Disputes, please click here  .

More questions?  Please e-mail FeeDisputeQuery@nycla.org and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.