Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Before an attorney can bill a claimant for legal services in an appeal, DUA must approve the amount of the attorney’s legal fees. This legal requirement applies only to attorneys that are representing claimants, not employers.
There is no deadline for seeking fee approval, but attorneys must get DUA’s approval before collecting any legal fees. Generally, the approval process takes about 10 business days from the date DUA receives the fee approval request from an attorney.

DUA Attorney Fee Approval

Online

The Details of Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

What you need for Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

In order to request fee approval, attorneys must submit the following documents:

  • A request letter containing:
    • The claimant’s full name
    • The claimant’s ID number
    • Hearing dates, times, and durations
    • Employer’s name (if applicable)
    • Issue ID number
    • Total potential unemployment benefit credit (“maximum benefit amount”)
    • Total fee amount being requested for approval
    • The signature of the attorney or agent who performed the services
  • A copy of the signed and dated fee agreement
  • A copy of the detailed billing statement, unless it was a flat fee agreement
  • A copy of the favorable hearing decision, if it was a contingent fee agreement

When to request approval

A request for approval should not be submitted until after the attorney has provided all the services that were agreed to in connection with proceedings before the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

In a contingent fee case, the request should not be submitted until after a favorable decision is issued.

Fees for Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Maximum amount of fees

Attorneys are encouraged to use flat fees when representing claimants. For example, a flat fee of $750 or less will likely be approved, provided that the fee agreement is clearly-written. Any fee above that amount needs closer analysis of the agreement, the issues, the rate, the time, and any contingencies.

The generally accepted cap for attorney fees is 15% of the claimant’s maximum benefit amount. In particularly complicated or contingent matters, a fee that is more than 15% may be approved. In no event will DUA approve a fee higher than 30% of the claimant’s maximum benefit amount.

Be advised that DUA may deny your request, if the proposed fee is determined to be unreasonably high. You may submit a new fee approval request for a lower amount.

Collecting a retainer from the claimant

Although DUA discourages attorneys from using retainers if they are representing claimants solely in unemployment proceedings, reasonable retainers are permitted provided that:

  • The retainer is placed in an Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA)
  • The retainer remains in the IOLTA account until the fee is approved by DUA, and
  • This information is clearly stated in the fee agreement

If your representation of the claimant in an unemployment proceeding is merely incidental to your representation of the claimant in other legal matters, you may collect a reasonable general retainer without seeking prior DUA approval.

How to request Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Attorneys should send an email that includes the documents listed above (preferably in PDF format) to section37fee@mass.gov.

The subject line of the email should be the claimant’s last name and Claimant Identification Number.

Electronic requests are the preferred method. Alternatively, but not encouraged, attorneys may mail the fee approval request, along with the information listed above.

Mail the request and required documents to:

Attorney/Agent Fee Approval Request
DUA Director's Suite
19 Staniford St., 3rd fl.
Boston, MA 02114

Next steps for Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

After an attorney fee approval request is submitted

The attorney must wait for an approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) before collecting any legal fees from a client. Generally, the approval process takes about 10 business days from the date DUA receives the fee approval request.

Requests that do not include all of the necessary information or seek an unusually high fee (in relation to the work involved) may take longer to review. If more than a month has passed since submitting an approval request, please email section37fee@mass.gov to ask about the status of the request.

More info about Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

The attorney fee approval process is required by section 37 of Chapter 151A of the General Laws. The purpose of section 37 is to safeguard unemployed individuals against being charged unreasonable fees.

Please note that DUA's role is to approve the amount an attorney can charge a claimant. DUA does not pay the attorney's fee.

Important reminder

The Board of Review (BOR) has its own fee approval process for services performed at the BOR level. Representation at remand hearings ordered by the BOR is considered part of the BOR level.

Request attorney fee approval from the Board of Review.

Contact for Request attorney fee approval from the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Address
Attorney Fee Approval Request, DUA Director's Suite, 19 Staniford St. 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02114
Online

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback