What Are My Dispute Resolution Options?

Dispute Concept.

If you are involved in a legal dispute, your options extend beyond litigation. Since most people are familiar with

Your first option to consider is mediation. A mediator is an appointed impartial third party who helps you facilitate conversation. The mediator does not review the case facts and make a determination. Instead, he or she is there to help you walk through the critical issues of the case and find common ground with the other party. When compared with litigation, mediation tends to help cut down on the tension between two disputing parties. In situations where the involved individuals may need to maintain a relationship afterwards, such as those cases involving workplace disputes, mediation is a much better alternative because it diffuses some of the conflict right away.litigation, they assume that it is the best choice for their situation. The good news is that mediation and arbitration are alternatives that are frequently less expensive for individuals in need of resolution.

A common reason that many people consider mediation over litigation is that mediation participants tend to be more satisfied with their outcomes. Parties can be more involved in the process and help design the structure of mediation. In the courtroom, distinct and rigid legal procedures are the guidelines for all interaction with the legal system. Parties have very little wiggle room with regard to designing their own final agreement or even determining how the process will unfold.

Arbitration offers a little bit more structure than mediation. Parties in mediation create their own agreement, but it is up to them to comply with it. Arbitration is a legally binding decision that is handed down by another individual. There is a bit more flexibility than litigation, but an arbitrator does make a final decision for the participants. The arbitrator or panel of arbitrators is generally chosen by the parties together. In arbitration, you will present your side of the story and the other party will present their facts, too.

You can consider alternative dispute resolution at any point in your dispute process, but the sooner you implement it, the better. Many mediation sessions have been successful even when litigation has failed. In most cases, mediation and arbitration are much less expensive and time-intensive than litigation. If you want to resolve your dispute more quickly and without the headaches of the legal system, consider whether mediation and arbitration are better alternatives for your needs.

Resolving Attorney Fee Disputes Before They Get Out of Hand

dispute arbitrationsWhenever money is involved in a particular transaction, there is always a risk of dispute.  Money may not buy happiness, but it is the engine that makes the modern world spin and people are very sensitive to any perceived unfairness or chicanery involving their money.  When it comes to fees paid to or billed by an attorney, many people believe they should be able to link every hour billed to work done by the attorney, and every other fee to a concrete benefit on their part.  In other words, fee disputes are a fact of life.

The key is to never let them get out of hand.  Under California law, there is mandatory fee arbitration between lawyers and clients (California is one of 12 States or jurisdictions with such laws, the others being Alaska, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Wyoming.

Fee Dispute Arbitration

The law in California requires fee arbitration if requested by either the lawyer or the client.  Most dispute arbitrations in California are managed by the local Bar Association of the lawyer in question, but that does not mean the attorney is in control: The attorney must participate if the client requests a fee dispute arbitration.  Most arbitrations are conducted within a few hours, with a decision and award rendered within a month.  The client can elect to have another attorney present at the arbitration if they wish, but no legal fees are awarded by fee dispute arbitration boards under any circumstances.

With such a robust, organized and effective fee dispute system, there is simply no reason to pursue any other vector of satisfaction even for large amounts of unpaid fees or fees believed collected in error.  Whether as the attorney or the client in a fee dispute, pursuing “vigilante” justice such as hiring a collection agent or attempting to use nuisance filings or other intimidation tactics is counter-productive.  The arbitration is quick and enforceable, removing any possibility of ethical issues or loss of claim due to improper procedures.  From a client’s point of view, the arbitration gives them access to an impartial mechanism that should satisfy any legitimate claim for improper billing.

For any fee dispute, there is a danger that the perceived unfairness and emotions associated with finances can cloud judgments.  The arbitration process in California prevents these factors from creating an untenable situation.

Attorney Fee Disputes

Having acted as a panel member as arbitrator and mediator for both NYSE and PSE, a private mediator, and as an expert witness on cases large and small, John S. Preston has the experience and tools to settle any attorney fee dispute in Oakland and Alameda County, California.  He has an intimate knowledge of the workings of California law and law firms, and can utilize that knowledge to help determine the reasonableness and necessity of all attorney fees in a wide variety of situations.

Attorney Fee DisputesJohn Preston has helped settle fee disputes at every level: As an expert witness he has helped guide the courts in disputes valued at over $3 million, as a private mediator he has helped determine reasonable fees for private and commercial property owners, as well as cases involving excessive billing, unjustified costs and general malpractice issues.

Real estate law often brings contention and conflict and in this acrimonious atmosphere, the conflict often spills into the private relationship between client and lawyer, especially when the outcome is not what the client expected.  Attorney fee disputes are best handled in private mediation where both sides can present their view and a mediator with experience on both sides of the issue can help determine what fees are reasonable under the circumstances and what relief has been established by precedent for the injured party, if any.  John Preston has that experience and has been called upon to serve in this capacity repeatedly by the courts, his fellow lawyers, and individuals.

Reasonable arbitration can settle these disputes before they become an expensive litigation process and John Preston has served Oakland and Alameda County, California for decades in this role.  No one knows both sides of these disputes better, and no one works harder to bring them to a mutually satisfactory conclusion.

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