Fee Disputes Committee Still Going Strong After More Than 30 Years

From left: David Zeff, Law Office of David Zeff; Timothy Flaherty, Morris, Polich & Purdy; C. Delos Putz, Prof. Emiritus, USF Law School, Ret.; AnnaMary E. Gannon (Chair), Dillingham & Murphy; Michael R. Marron, Law Office of Michael R. Marron; Mary E. McCutcheon, Farella Braun + Martel; Alan Harris, Farella Braun + Martel; Baldwin J. Lee, Allen Matkins; and Kenneth G. Hausman, Arnold & Porter.

From left: David Zeff, Law Office of David Zeff; Timothy Flaherty, Morris, Polich & Purdy; C. Delos Putz, Prof. Emiritus, USF Law School, Ret.; AnnaMary E. Gannon (Chair), Dillingham & Murphy; Michael R. Marron, Law Office of Michael R. Marron; Mary E. McCutcheon, Farella Braun + Martel; Alan Harris, Farella Braun + Martel; Baldwin J. Lee, Allen Matkins; and Kenneth G. Hausman, Arnold & Porter.

The Bar Association of San Francisco has always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. BASF would like to recognize a particular group of attorneys who are great examples of exceptional service and dedication: the Executive Committee for BASF’s Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Program. They are a tireless group of volunteers who have contributed hundreds of hours over more than three decades to a program mandated by the State Bar.

The Fee Dispute Program began when the Mandatory Fee Arbitration Act was enacted in 1978. This legislation was created by attorneys who understood that just like in any relationship, disputes would arise between attorneys and clients, and that many of the disputes were about billings. The program allows both attorneys and clients to resolve a fee dispute in a confidential and efficient way.

BASF’s Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Program Executive Committee met recently during Volunteer Appreciation Week. We asked them about their early days on the committee, and about the value of the program to the legal community.

 “I became an arbitrator sometime in the late 80s or early 90’s…. I joined the Executive Committee [and] was Chair by 1999. I have always enjoyed the dedication and camaraderie of the Exec Committee, as well as the legal and human issues raised by attorney-client fee disputes.”  – Mary E. McCutcheon  

“I’ve been on the committee since it started. Before [that], I worked with then-BASF President Frank Farella to have the Mandatory Fee Arbitration statute enacted. One of the issues we faced was the right to a jury trial in civil cases; we were able to deal with that issue by including a right to a trial de novo in Superior Court.” – Ken Hausman

“… I came on the Executive Committee circa 2000 ….[and] became chair as of January 1, 2010. One of the “nice” things about serving as an arbitrator is that you get to make a decision. On a three arbitrator panel you have the benefit of the other arbitrators’ perceptions of the case, although I have to say I cannot recall an instance when we did not all agree on the outcome.”
AnnaMary Gannon (Chair)

More information about BASF’s Fee Dispute Program can be found online at www.sfbar.org/adr or email adr@sfbar.org.