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Fee Arbitration Program

The State Bar of New Mexico Fee Arbitration program provides clients and attorneys with an out-of-court method of resolving fee disputes that is confidential, inexpensive, and impartial. This voluntary program can help avoid difficult, lengthy, and often expensive lawsuits. The purpose of the State Bar’s Fee Arbitration program is to address fee disputes between attorneys and their clients. If there are non-fee related issues involved in a dispute, the State Bar’s Fee Arbitration program may not be the appropriate venue for the matter.  Arbitration can be requested by either the client or attorney. The State Bar offers this arbitration program as a free service to the public and to attorneys.

The amounts that can be disputed are:

  • Between $1,000 and $25,000 the arbitration will be before a single arbitrator. Over $25,000 either party may request a panel of three arbitrators.

The Fee Arbitration Program has volunteer arbitrators who are attorneys and experienced non-attorneys from throughout New Mexico who donate their time to help resolve fee disputes.

This program is appropriate where the amount charged is in dispute. The following are a list of disputes NOT subject to arbitration:

  • Unfavorable outcome of the case;
  • Disputes where the client seeks affirmative relief for damages against the attorney based upon alleged malpractice or professional misconduct;
  • Disputes where entitlement to and the amount of the fees and/or costs charge or paid to an attorney by the client or on the client's behalf have been determined by court order, rule or decision; and
  • Disputes where a third person is responsible for payment of the fees and the client fails to join in the request for arbitration.

To start the process:

  1. Request the Petition for Fee Arbitration form by email to or download the form.
  2. Read the Fee Arbitration Procedures here.
  3. Submit the signed and dated petition and supporting documents in a single PDF file by email to the Fee Arbitration Program at

Keep one copy for your records. You have now filed for fee arbitration.

Send to:

State Bar of New Mexico

Office of General Counsel

Fee Arbitration Program

If the petition is appropriate for the arbitration program, a copy of the petition along with a Respondent Fee Arbitration Agreement will be sent to the respondent. The respondent has thirty (30) days to return the signed agreement. This arbitration program is voluntary, and it is not mandatory for either party to participate.

If both parties do agree, a volunteer arbitrator is assigned, and the parties will receive a notice of the appointment. If either party declines to arbitrate, the arbitration will not take place.

If both parties agree to arbitrate, a hearing date will be set by the arbitrator. It may be held virtually or in person. Either party may request a record of the hearing at their own expense.

At the hearing, may be represented by an attorney, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. If one party does not attend the hearing, the arbitrators may still hear and determine the controversy. A written determination will be made by the arbitrator(s). This determination becomes effective upon review and filing with the Office of General Counsel. The Program Administrator will email a copy of the award to each party and retain the original in the client file.

Arbitrations shall be held in accordance with the State Bar of New Mexico Fee Arbitration Procedures and the New Mexico Uniform Arbitration Act § 44- 7A-1et. seq. NMSA 1978.

Forms and Resources