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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Arbitration Clause in Lawyer's Contract with Client

A law firm's contract with its client said either side could opt for binding arbitration to settle a fee dispute or “any other dispute that arises out of or relates to this agreement or the services provided by the law firm.”  Despite this clause, the client sued the firm and three lawyers for malpractice. The First Circuit affirmed the district court in enforcing the arbitration clause and dismissing the case.

Read more in the National Law Journal about Bezio v. Draeger

An analysis by Jeff Mason contrasts this First Circuit Bezio case with a Ninth Circuit case, Smith v. JEM, 2013 WL 6570899 (9th Cir. Dec. 16, 2013), affirming a district court holding that the arbitration clause was unconscionable under Washington state law that makes arbitration clauses material provisions in attorney retainer agreements and, as such, enforceable only if “fully disclosed.”   Jeff Mason asks if The Easiest Arbitration Agreement to Avoid May Be the One Between Attorney and Client and "Are lawyers’ clients really such a special group of consumers that their arbitration clauses should be held to different standards?"  See also  Hodges v. Reasonover, 103 So. 3d 1069 (La. 2012) (placing special hurdles to enforcement of lawyer-client arbitration clauses).

1 comment:

  1. A recent trend among some lawyers is to include an arbitration provision in their engagement contracts. A typical clause will require the client to settle their dispute with the lawyer before one or more arbitrators, in what is essentially a private proceeding.
    Investment Arbitration