For immediate release: Sept. 23, 2009
For further information contact:
Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig
Supreme Court of New Jersey Recognizes Volunteers on District Fee Arbitration Committees
The Supreme Court will issue certificates of meritorious service today to 33 members of New Jersey’s district fee arbitration committees to thank them for having served the Judiciary, announced Charles Centinaro, Director of the Office of Attorney Ethics. Members of these committees resolve disputes concerning legal fees between clients and their attorneys.
“The fee arbitration program relies almost entirely on volunteers to provide an affordable and efficient forum for attorneys and their clients to resolve disagreements over appropriate attorney fees. Their service is invaluable, and we thank them for their commitment and expertise,” said Centinaro.
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 288 volunteers serve on the state’s 17 committees. Please see the attached list for the names and hometowns of the departing members.
In 2008, clients filed 1,091 new fee disputes statewide. The committees resolved 1,082 disputes involving almost $14.3 million in total billings. More information on the Office of Attorney Ethics and the fee arbitration program can be found at njcourtsonline.com.
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Fee Arbitration Committee Members
Term ending August 31, 2009
(Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties)
Daniel J. Young, Esq., Chair of Ocean City
Christine T. J. Tucker, Esq. of Galloway Township
(North Bergen County)
Evelyn J. Marose, Esq., Chair of Hackensack
Deborah P. Pico, Esq. of Fair Lawn
David Torchin, Esq. of Hackensack
Mary Eisenberg of Woodcliff Lake
(South Bergen County)
Carmine Lo Faro, Esq., Chair of Hackensack
Iryna Lomaga Carey, Esq. of Hackensack
Mary Ann T. Stokes, Esq. of Saddle Brook
Paul Berberich of Cresskill
Elizabeth Berenato, Esq., Chair of Burlington
Nancy E. Griffin, Esq. of Mount Holly
Thomas J. Orr, Esq. of Burlington
(Camden and Gloucester Counties)
Philip S. Fuoco, Esq., Chair of Haddonfield
Frances Wang Deveney, Esq. of Pennsauken
Lise A. Fisher, Esq. of Gibbsboro
Katrina Fisler Vitale, Esq. of Haddonfield
Craig Klayman, Esq. of Woodbury
Lee Alan L. Schemanski, Esq. of Cherry Hill
Donafaye W. Zoll, Esq. of Cherry Hill
(Essex County - Newark)
Alan Trembulak, Esq., Chair of Montclair
Randy Mantion of Newark
(Essex County - Suburban Essex)
Francesca S. Blanco, Esq., Chair of Florham Park
Paul A. Massaro, Esq. of Verona
Lawrence S. Churgin of West Orange
Rhoda B. Denholtz of Short Hills
(Essex County - West Essex)
Lisa Manshel, Esq. of Millburn
William N. Gonzalez, Esq., V. Chair of West New York
Michael A. Purvin, Esq. of West New York
Lisa Terlizzi of Weehawken
Carol J. Truss, Esq., Chair of Freehold
Bruce Fromer, Esq. of Neptune
William Surdovel of Freehold
(Morris and Sussex Counties)
(Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties)