When Is The Attorney-Client Relationship Established?

When an individual or organization is on the hunt for legal representation, there can be murky boundaries that define an actual attorney-client relationship. Especially to the uninitiated parties that are seeking insurance on their behalf or are requiring support for an important case, the understanding of when a relationship has been put in place can be difficult to decipher.


This is often the case when a consultation has occurred and sensitive information might have been forward. Are they protected in this instance to know that this information will not be compromised? At what point can you know if you have secured legal representation in the eyes of the law?


Here we will outline a handful of key scenarios that attempts to address this question directly.

When You Meet The Client Definition


If you are a party that has consulted a lawyer, then an attorney-client relationship may have been established in the eyes of the law. This will happen if a reasonable conclusion is reached where the lawyer has agreed to render their legal services.


The rulings set around this circumstance does not necessarily stipulate that a transaction or formal agreement has to be established with a payment or retainer, overlooking the need for any sort of formality. Just the initial contact alone can be enough to ensure that an attorney-client partnership has been formed.

Screening and Interview Process


The screening process on behalf of the attorney and the interview or consultation moment on behalf of the client are important gauges to interpreting the nature of the relationship. This will help to provide red flags on conflicts of interest or fields of expertise that explains if a partnership is valid moving forward.


An attorney who does not meet the demands or the qualifications of the case is obliged to decline representation whilst being discrete about the nature of the talks. Likewise for a lawyer who believes the party is not consulting in good faith or holds unreasonable expectations as to the outcome of a case will see their professional relationship ended abruptly.

Agreeing to Formal Terms


If both parties believe that the relationship is valid and there is a desire to push forward, then a formal letter of engagement will be signed. A separate fee engagement document can also be lodged as the provisions of the agreement are laid out from financial costs to parameters of the representation. This checklist is the guarantee that the partnership has been formed with binding stipulations that make it unique to a simple verbal agreement.