Lawyers can include arbitration clauses in retainer agreements for fee disputes and malpractice claims so long as the client consents after receiving full disclosure, an American Bar Association ethics panel concluded in an opinion released last Thursday.

“It is permissible under the Model Rules to include in a retainer agreement . . . a provision that requires binding arbitration of disputes concerning fees and malpractice claims, provided that the client has been fully apprised of the advantages and disadvantages of arbitration and has given her informed consent,” wrote the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility in Formal Opinion 02-425.

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