To what end? It is not malpractice for an attorney to withdraw from a case and an attorney is not bound to you.
The problem you have with any action against this attorney is whether you were damaged. Also, I assume you probably signed some sort of written agreement, so the terms of that agreement will likely dictate what would happen. After all, a well drafted fee agreement will contain language addressing this very issue.
However, if you really want to find out, you need to get a copy of the fee agreement and meet with a lawyer in your area to review options.
Your situation is very common, and fee arbitration is not going to address or resolve any issues about whether your first attorney had a right to bail on representing you, or even whether that attorney had a right to require additional payment during the course of your case. Arbitration is about the amount of the fees that the attorney has charged or is demanding.
It is common in marital dissolution proceedings for the court to order the party in the economically superior position to pay the attorney fees of the other party, or for the court to make an allocation and distribution of marital community assets that accomplishes equalization on the issue of capability for paying for legal representation. Where, during the course of the case, the factual issues reveal that such payment mechanism may not be possible or is doubtful, it is routine for the attorney of the economically dependent party to look to the client for payment. The attorney is not held hostage to provide service for free, nor to continue to work at risk of non-payment.
It is unlikely that fee arbitration can offer you anything meaningful here unless you are contesting the amount of fees charged by your first attorney. But your post makes no reference to that issue, so how significant can that be?
No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.
This is really more of an ethics question than one about arbitration law. As such, California's bar organization may offer you some guidance. You are already aware that fee arbitration exists. You may be able to get an advisory opinion from the bar as to whether this attorney acted improperly. If, in fact, you had no choice but to hire another attorney then there may be circumstances where you have a basis to dispute a portion of what the first attorney has charged.