California  |  Legal Malpractice

Legal Question

Asked on: 8/16/06, 12:17 am

Is arbitration required?

I hired an attorney to provide specific services.

She failed to provide these services.

Her fee agreement provides that all disputes, including breach of contract, will be settled by binding arbitration. However, I believe California law provides that the client be offered nonbinding arbitration for all fee disputes unless s/he agrees to binding arbitration after the dispute arises. Since the services were not provided, the obvious remedy is a refund. Am I obligated to arbitrate the dispute? Can I opt to file suit instead?

Also, the same attorney provided other services not contracted for (another billing opportunity). I did not ask her to provide these services, and such services were not reasonably necessary in connection with any services that I actually hired her to provide. In fact, the additional services actually interfered with the performance of the services covered by the fee agreement. They were performed without my knowledge or permission, and I asked her to stop as soon as I found out.

She would like to be paid for the additional services. Same question--are such additional services covered by the fee agreement for the services I actually hired her to provide?

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