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For immediate release: October 2, 2008
For further information contact: Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig
609-292-9580

Supreme Court of New Jersey Recognizes Volunteers on District Fee Arbitration Committees

The Supreme Court will issue certificates of meritorious service to 52 members of New Jersey's district fee arbitration committees to thank them for having served the Judiciary, today announced David E. Johnson Jr., director of the Office of Attorney Ethics. Members of these committees resolve disputes concerning legal fees between consumers and their attorneys.

"Our fee arbitration volunteers are the backbone of this very successful program, allowing attorneys and their clients a quick and convenient process to resolve their disagreement over appropriate attorney fees. We are grateful for their expertise and dedication," said Johnson.

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 nine other 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 attorney maintains a law office. 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 services; 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 services; and whether the fee is fixed or contingent. Matters involving fees of $3,000 or more are heard before panels of three members 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 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 304 volunteers serve on the state's 17 committees. Please see the attached list for the names and hometowns of the departing members.

In 2007, clients filed 1,003 new fee disputes statewide. The committees resolved 1,038 disputes involving almost $11.3 million in total billings. More information on the Office of Attorney Ethics and the fee arbitration program can be found at njcourtsonline.com.

Outgoing Fee Arbitration Committee Members

District I
(Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties)

               Marian Haag, Esq., Chair, Bridgeton
               Braun D. Littlefield, Esq., Atlantic City
               Michael J. Mackler, Esq., Atlantic City
               Dorothy F. McCrosson, Esq., Ocean City
               Joseph Abbott, Jr., Pleasantvillebr>                Paul S. Cooper, Bridgeton

District IIA
(North Bergen County)

               Margaret S. Sullivan, Esq., Chair, Ridgewood
               Alexander P. Adler, Cliffside Park
               Jeffrey Hering, Montvale

District IIB
(South Bergen County)

               Ronald M. Abramson, Esq., Chair, Hackensack
               Edward S. Kiel, Esq., V. Chair, Hackensack
               William J. Bailey, Esq., Westwood
               Robert Boyle, Hackensack
               Steven Frimmer, Ridgefield Park
               Joseph A. Harris, Ph.D., Teaneck

District IIIA
(Ocean County)

               Patricia Speck, Shrewsbury

District IIIB
(Burlington County)

               Jeremy D. Countess, Esq., Chair, Moorestown
               Marie Kotch, Columbus
               Nina Ladoff, Moorestown

District IV
(Camden and Gloucester Counties)

               Lynn M. Castillo, Esq., Woodbury

District VA
(Essex County - Newark)

               Joan H. Langer, Esq., Chair, Newark
               Luis E. Rivera-Castro, Esq., Montclair
               John H. Klock, Esq., Newark
               Harold Bobrow, Maplewood

District VB
(Essex County - Suburban Essex))

               Cheryl H. Burstein, Esq., Chair, West Orange
               Marc B. Kramer, Esq. of Short Hills

District VC
(Essex County - West Essex)

               A.L. Gaydos, Jr., Esq., Chair, Montclair
               Laurie A. Bernstein, Esq., Roseland
               Geraldine Reed Brown, Esq., Montclair
               Audrey Bartner, Verona

District VI
(Hudson County)

               Norberto A. Garcia, Esq., Chair, Jersey City
               Joseph J. Talafous, Jr., Esq., Jersey City
               Cindy N. Vogelman, Esq., Secaucus
               Raymond Bulin, Union City

District VII
(Mercer County)

               Roger T. Haley, Esq., Trenton

District VIII
(Middlesex County)

               Chris E. Piasecki, Esq., Chair, Middlesex
               Ernest Blair, Esq., Kendall Park
               Gregory A. Drews, Esq., New Brunswick

District IX
(Monmouth County)

               Edward P. Fradkin, Esq., Chair, Oakhurst
               Allen C. Jenkins, Marlboro
               Walter T. MacGowan, Jr., Spring Lake

District X
(Morris and Sussex Counties)

               John E. Ursin, Esq., Chair, Sparta
               Jonathan S. Bristol, Esq., Morristown
               Herbert M. Strulowitz, Esq., Randolph

District XI
(Passaic County)

               Richard J. Baldi, Esq., Chair, Paterson
               Patricia M. Rocca, Little Falls

District XII
(Union County)

               James J. Byrnes, Esq., Chair, Union
               Edward P. Ruane, Esq., Springfield
               Alan T. English, Ph.D., Summit

District XIII
(Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties)

               Donna Marie Jones Emmi, Esq., Chair, Hillsborough
               Lisa J. Pezzano-Mickey, Esq., Asbury Park
               Robert G. Wilson, Somerville

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