Legal Malpractice

What If I Dispute My Lawyer’s Fees and Costs?

By Sachi Barreiro, Attorney, University of San Francisco School of Law

Your lawyer should give you a breakdown of all fees, costs, and other expenses taken out of your settlement or award. If you have questions about any deductions, ask your lawyer to explain what the charge was for. Your lawyer should also give you copies of invoices, bills, and receipts for relevant charges, upon your request.

If your lawyer is charging fees or costs in clear violation of your retainer agreement, you can bring a breach of contract claim. However, if there is no contract or the contract isn’t clear, you may want to resolve the dispute another way. Most states have a fee arbitration program that helps lawyers and clients resolve disputes over legal fees. In some states, fee arbitration is required before you can file a lawsuit against your lawyer over legal fees. (To learn more, see our article explaining the arbitration process for legal fee disputes.)

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