What is an Attorney-Client Relationship?

May 14, 2021

Generally speaking, an attorney-client relationship is a relationship formed when a lawyer agrees to perform legal service for a client in return for some type of compensation. Put another way, it is the relationship between the two parties created by a contract.

In fact, even though many people are reluctant to commit themselves financially to any lawyer, it’s not much different than reaching an agreement with someone to mow your lawn over a certain period of time. Both individuals perform a task that they are experienced in and capable of doing, and you pay them money in return. If you think you have a case that could benefit from having an attorney’s legal know-how, contact our Easton accident attorney today.

How is an Attorney-Client Relationship Formed?

As discussed above, an attorney-client relationship is formed when an attorney agrees to provide legal services to a person for compensation. Like any contract, the scope of the relationship depends on the terms of the agreement. An attorney may agree to handle a single specific legal issue or a series of related issues, which means the relationship ends once the issues are resolved. 

Alternatively, the attorney may agree to be “on-call” for a client and represent the client for all legal issues that may arise, which creates an ongoing attorney-client relationship that lasts until it is terminated. This is called a “retainer” agreement, and the ongoing relationship is paid by a monthly or yearly retainer fee to secure the attorney’s representation at any time, for any reason.

However, simply speaking with an attorney without the reasonable belief that the legal advice will be taken or that the attorney will represent you does not form an attorney-client relationship. 

If you are thinking about hiring a lawyer in Pennsylvania, and have questions about the attorney-client relationship, contact an Easton accident attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis for help. We will explain the relationship and help you determine what, if any, legal services you may benefit from.

What is an Implied Attorney-Client Relationship?

Even without a written agreement, there may be an “implied” attorney-client relationship. Pennsylvania courts have held that absent an express contract, an implied attorney/client relationship will be found if :

  • The client sought advice or assistance from the attorney,
  • The advice sought was within the attorney’s professional competence (i.e., the law),
  • The attorney expressly or impliedly agreed to provide such assistance, and 
  • It is reasonable for the client to believe the attorney was representing the client.

So, for example, let’s say you have a party at your house and your friend (who is a lawyer) starts mingling with another guest. Upon their official introduction, the guest says, “Oh, you’re a lawyer! Well, I paid someone to mow my lawn for $50 upfront, but he only spent a half-hour and didn’t do any of the trimming or weed-eating. What should I do?” So your lawyer friend says, “It sounds like small claims court would be your best option, but I’d have to know the details.” Has an attorney-client relationship been created? No. Your friend has not agreed to handle the matter, and the details and payment weren’t even discussed. 

Let an Easton Accident Attorney Help Explain the Attorney-Client Relationship

If you have a dispute with another person or business entity and are considering a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, contact an Easton accident lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis for your free consultation. We’ll explain the details of the attorney-client relationship and give you payment options to ensure you are comfortable with the attorney-client relationship.