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For immediate release: November 19, 2007
For further information contact: Winnie Comfort, Tamara Kendig
609-292-9580

Volunteers Appointed to Attorney Fee Arbitration Committees

David E. Johnson Jr., director of the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), has announced that 103 new members of the OAE's Fee Arbitration Committee have completed training and are ready to begin their terms. Members of these committees resolve fee disputes between consumers and their attorneys.

"The fee arbitration system helps engender the public's trust and confidence in our legal system," said Johnson. "The experience and dedication of our volunteers makes it possible for attorneys and clients to receive a fair determination on an appropriate fee without the added burden of additional litigation."

The New Jersey Supreme Court created the current fee arbitration system in 1978 as a way to resolve fee disputes between clients and attorneys in a timely and inexpensive manner. Only a few others states offer a mandatory, statewide, attorney fee arbitration program similar to New Jersey's.

Fee arbitration is initiated when a client files an arbitration request form with the secretary of the committee in a district where the layer maintains an office for the practice of law. Clients can obtain contact information for the appropriate district committee by calling the automated Fee Arbitration Hotline at 800-406-8594 and entering the attorney's office zip code. The client and the attorney each must pay a $50 administrative filing fee for utilizing the fee arbitration system.

In fee matters, the attorney must prove that the fee charged was reasonable based on a number of factors, including the time and labor required; the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the legal skills required; the likelihood that serving the client will preclude other employment by the lawyer, the customary fees for similar legal service; the amount involved and the results obtained; the time limits imposed by the client or by the circumstances; the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; the experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the service; and whether the fee is fixed or contingent. Most legal matters require a written fee arrangement, where the attorney has not represented regularly the client before. All family actions, such as divorce and custody, and all contingent matters, such as personal injury cases and other tort actions, require written agreements in all cases." Matters involving fees of $3,000 or more are heard before panels of three members (one public member and two attorneys) of the district fee arbitration committee. Matters involving lesser amounts are heard by a single attorney from the committee. A written arbitration determination is prepared by for the parties, who may choose to settle at any time before or during a hearing.

Attorneys and members of the public are appointed to four-year terms. Currently there are 284 volunteers serving on the state's 17 committees. Please see the attached list for the names and hometowns of the incoming members.

In 2006, there were 987 new fee disputes filed statewide. The committees resolved 934 disputes involving almost $10 million in total billings. More information on the Office of Attorney Ethics and the fee arbitration program can be found at njcourtsonline.com.

The OAE maintains a comprehensive Web site, which can be accessed through the Judiciary Web site at njcourtsonline.com.

Fee Arbitration Committee Members
District I
(Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties)

     Stephen David Barse, Esq. of Vineland
     Bennett I. Bardfeld, Esq. of Vineland
     Evelyn S. Caterson, Esq. of Absecon
     William Michael Davis, Esq. of Pleasantfille
     Richard Francis DeLucry, Esq. of Atlantic City
     Maneesha S. Joshi, Esq. of Northfield
     Demetricia L. Todd, Esq. of Bridgeton
     Lori Seyler of Port Republic
     Shirley R. Wilson of Seaville
     James E. Wren of Stone Harbor
     Cynthia Zirkle of Fairton
District IIA
(North Bergen County)

     Kevin P. Harkins, Esq. of Ridgewood
     Sheila H. Klempner, Esq. of Hillsdale
     Eileen P. Mulroy, Esq. of Passaic
     Carlos A. Rendo, Esq. of North Bergen
     Jack Drakeford of Englewood
     Margaret G. Mahoney of Upper Saddle River
District IIB
(South Bergen County)

     Joseph H. Cerame, Esq. of Hackensack
     Steven M. Honig, Esq. of Waldrick
     Anthony R. Suarez, Esq. Fort Lee
     Patricia Huot of Ramsey
     Louise Jones of Teaneck
District IIIA
(Ocean County)

     Stacie A. Brustman, Esq. of Toms River
     Barry K. Odell, Esq. of Brick
     Marianna C. Pontoriero, Esq. of Sea Girt
     Matthew Smith of Toms River
District IIIB
(Burlington County)

     Karen L. Amacker, Esq. of Mt. Laurel
     John Joseph Coughlin, IV, Esq. of Moorestown
     Louis Nagy of Medford
     Wilbur L. Williams of Westampton
District IV
(Camden County)

     James Bucci, Esq. of Camden
     Eric Gilbert Fikry, Esq. of Cherry Hill
     Maisie Chin Smith, Esq. of Haddonfield
     Henry Bean, III of Haddonfield
     Angelo Cardone of Camden
     Pamela Fisk of Haddonfield
     S. Jay Mirmanesh, M.D. of Voorhees
District VA
(Essex County - Newark)

     Elizabeth Ann Kenny, Esq. of Newark
     Jason Joseph Lavery, Esq. of Newark
     John C. Phillips, Esq. of Newark
     Alexander Belgiovine, Jr. of Montclair
     James Clark, M.D. of Short Hills
     Diane Bey of Newark
District VB
(Essex County - Suburban Essex)

     Karimu F. Hill-Harvey, Esq. of South Orange
     Galit Kierkut, Esq. of Millburn
     Ian S. Marx, Esq. of Short Hills
     Jacqueline R.P. Brandon of East Orange
     Warren Jacobs of Maplewood
District VC
(Essex County - West Essex)

     Linwood Allen Jones, Esq. of East Orange
     Stephen H. Knee, Esq. of Roseland
     Delia J. Murphy, Esq. of Bloomfield
     Patrick P. Toscano, Jr., Esq. of Nutley
     Roger S. Terry of Montclair
     Joan Wigler of Livingston
District VI
(Hudson County)

     Gregory J. Castano, Esq. of West Caldwell
     Lisa J. Snedeker of Secaucus
District VII
(Mercer County)

     Sherri A. Affrunti, Esq. of Princeton
     Jane R. Altman, Esq. of Skillman
     Barry Sussman of Trenton
     Steven Voorhees of Princeton
District VIII
(Middlesex County)

     Vikrant Kishin Advani, Esq. of New Brunswick
     Robert J. Devlin, Esq. of Metuchen
     Patrick W. Foley, Esq. of New Brunswick
     Louis J.R. Kady, Esq. of Carteret
     Richard F. Plechner, Esq. of Metuchen
     Willard C. Shin, Esq. of Woodbridge
     Clarence Beverly of Piscataway
     Lynell Boston Kollar of New Brunswick
     Jacquelyn E. Marich of North Brunswick
     Maria Perini of Sayreville
     Ann Sardone of Metuchen
     Valerie Thornton Thomas of North Brunswick
     George Zsamba of Milltown
District IX
(Monmouth County)

     Scott J. Basen, Esq. of Freehold
     Gregory S. Baxter, Esq. of Shrewsbury
     Mary Patricia Magee, Esq. of Red Bank
     Charles R. Parker, Esq. of Freehold
     Noel S. Tonneman, Esq. of Fair Haven
     Amani Neptune of Tinton Falls
District X
(Morris and Sussex Counties)

     Bernard J. Berkowitz, Esq. of Montville
     Glenn T. Gavan, Esq. of Sparta
     Stephanie Frangos Hagan, Esq. of Morristown
     Alyse C. Landano, Esq. Montville
     Patrick B. Minter, Esq. of Morristown
     George D. Schonwald, Esq. of Parsippany
     Lynda Sherrie Lesko of Highland Lakes
     Marge Wyngaarden of Pompton Plains
District XI
(Passaic County)

     Carmen Elsa Cortes, Esq. of Paterson
     Annmarie P. Smits, Esq. of Livingston
     Van Anastos of Wayne
     Edward Casey of West Milford
     Yury Rodriguez of Clifton
     Ervin Schoenblum of Wayne
District XII
(Union County)

     Frank G. Capece, Esq. of Westfield
     Richard S. Elmiger, Esq. of Summit
     Robert G. Hicks, Esq. of Springfield
     Honora Margaret Keane, Esq. of Westfield
     Marlene Centanni of Watchung
     Joseph Hoeffler of Cranford
     Fred Robinson of Union
District XIII
(Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties)

     Thomas F. Chansky, Esq. of Somerville
     Marian Hosmer of Bridgewater
     Lana L. Nicholson of Bridgewater

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