2014 - 15 Fee Dispute Resolution Committee


The Fee Dispute Resolution Committee mediates and arbitrates fee disputes pursuant to RPC 1.5(f). Committee members/panelists must have mediation experience or be DRC certified mediators.




2014-15 Chair

Keith B. Nichols





Class of 2015

Class of 2016

Class of 2017

Public Members

Stephen E. Gruendel

Stacey Stone Bennett

Sarah A. DiFranco

Ben Heatley

Christopher A. Hicks

Mary V. Carrigan

Sterling A. Spainhour

Darwin F. Rice

Chris M. Kallianos

Colette T. Davis

Louis A. Waple

 Judy Smith

Jeffrey A. Long

William L. Esser IV



Kenneth R. Raynor

F. Lane Williamson





Staff Liaison

Maya M. Engle, Assistant Executive Director - mengle@meckbar.org 


Volunteer Need / Commitment

Members of the Fee Dispute Resolution Committee attend quarterly committee meetings and are assigned two to three cases each month to mediate. Members will also have the opportunity to participate in arbitration panels consisting of three panelists: a chair, one attorney and one lay person.  Interested in joining this committee?Complete the committee interest form.



Committee Documents/Links


2013-14 Fee Dispute Resolution Committee

Keith Nichols, Chair


The Fee Dispute Resolution Committee mediates (and in some cases arbitrates) fee disputes between lawyers who are members of the Mecklenburg County Bar and their clients.  Under the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(f), North Carolina licensed attorneys must participate in good faith in the Fee Dispute Resolution process if a client has made a timely and proper claim.


A Committee member determines whether this Committee has jurisdiction for Fee Dispute Resolution, then mediates the dispute if needed.  Cases that resolve in mediation are closed with a written memorandum.  Cases that reach an impasse may (with mutual consent) be referred to a 3-person arbitration panel consisting of two lawyers and one lay person, none of whom was the mediator.  Without such mutual consent, cases that reach an impasse are closed to allow the parties to pursue other remedies.


Fee Disputes may be filed locally or with the North Carolina State Bar, but most are handled locally.  Lawyer members of the Committee are trained and certified mediators or have extensive mediation experience.  All proceedings are confidential.


A recent State Bar ethics opinion (2012 FEO 2) and resulting changes proffered by the Dispute Resolution Commission have resulted in the Committee having to revisit its role in resolving fee disputes involving pro se parties.  The role of this committee remains to assist attorneys and their clients in resolving disputes regarding fees. Members of the committee who serve as mediators can formulate a written summary of the terms of the agreement reached between the parties. When dealing with pro se parties, the written agreement will be called a “Mediation Summary” and can be signed by the parties as long as it expressly indicates that no representations are being made regarding the finality or enforceability of the terms.


From July 1, 2013, through May 1, 2014, approximately 57 new files were opened and 50 were closed.  Of these closed files, more than 30 were settled.  The number of new files this fiscal year is comparable to last fiscal year, which perhaps indicates a stabilization to the increase the Committee has been seeing in prior years.