How and when does an attorney-client relationship form? The Dallas Court of Appeals says that the attorney-client relationship is contractual in nature and may be either express or implied. But the relationship must be based upon an intent by BOTH parties to create such a relationship and it is insufficient to create an attorney-client relationship based upon one party’s subjective belief.
In Kiger v. Balestri, Kiger sued Balestri for breach of fiduciary duty and alleged that Balestri revealed confidential and trade secret information that Balestri obtained during an attorney-client relationship with Kiger. The court of appeals affirmed a summary judgment in favor of Balestri and concluded that there was no fact issue raised as to the existence of an attorney-client relationship between Kiger and Balestri. The facts showed that Balestri had previously represented companies that Kiger had a financial interest in, but Balestri never represented Kiger personally. Further, Kiger contacted Balestri about the idea that was the subject of the dispute at a time that Balestri was not practicing law, and the exchanges between the two failed to show any effort to retain Balestri or to show that an express or implied attorney-client relationship was formed. And even if such a relationship had been formed, the Dallas Court of Appeals holds that the relationship would have terminated upon completion of the purpose of the employment absent an agreement to the contrary. The court’s opinion may be found here.