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The Missouri Bar works to protect clients

Adherence to the standards established by the Missouri Rule of Professional Conduct is expected from every lawyer. The Missouri Bar recognizes that, regardless of the efforts to maintain a high degree of competence and ethics among the members of the legal profession, some lawyers fail to meet those standards.  

Fee disputes can be handled at no cost to clients through The Missouri Bar’s Fee Dispute Resolution Program. In addition, The Missouri Bar created and maintains the Client Security Fund to compensate clients harmed by lawyers who violate the professional and ethical standards. 

What is the Fee Dispute Resolution Program? 

The Fee Dispute Resolution (FDR) Program is available on a voluntary basis to assist clients who feel they have been overcharged for legal fees by a Missouri lawyer and wish to dispute them. The program offers facilitation, mediation, and binding arbitration to assist the parties in resolving the dispute. 

How do I begin the fee dispute resolution process? 

To start the process, the client may complete the FDR petition form and submit it by email, mail, or fax. The FDR Committee will review the completed form and determine if the program has jurisdiction to open a case. 

Rules of the Committee on Fee Dispute Resolution 

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration? 

In a mediation session, the mediator(s) will assist the parties to reach an agreement, but will not make a decision. In a binding arbitration hearing, the arbitrator(s) will hear both parties and their witnesses and will make a decision/award, which the parties have agreed to be bound by in advance of the hearing. 

Overview of mediation

Overview of binding arbitration

The mediators and arbitrators are volunteers from throughout the state serving the general public in recognition of this public service program. They are lawyers and other non-lawyer professionals who have experience and have completed training in the areas of mediation and arbitration. 

What is the Client Security Fund? 

The Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar created the Client Security Fund in 1966 to compensate clients harmed by lawyers. The fund is maintained by appropriations from the annual enrollment fees paid by each member of The Missouri Bar. The fund also accrues interest and receives restitution payments from lawyers seeking reinstatement. 

A six-member committee operates under rules established by the Board of Governors. The committee may recommend reimbursement of a claim in full or in part, or may recommend denial of a claim. All payments recommended by the committee are subject to review by the Board of Governors, which retains full discretion regarding payment of any claim. 

Who can receive payment from the Client Security Fund? 

Regulations and rules of the Client Security Fund Committee only permit payments for certain types of wrongful conduct. Compensation is not available for fee disputes or cases of malpractice. As a prerequisite for payment, the lawyer must be disbarred, suspended, deceased, or adjudicated mentally incapacitated. 

Click here to learn more about protections offered to clients by The Missouri Bar.