Attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that works to keep confidential communications between a lawyer and his client private. Communications made to and by a lawyer in the presence of a third party may not be entitled to this privilege because they are not confidential. Usually, an attorney-client relationship doesn't form until the lawyer and client agree. But the attorney-client privilege protects some communications made before the prospective client hires the lawyer, and even some where the lawyer is never hired.
California courts have held that an attorney-client relationship can only be created by contract, xii However, the formation of an attorney-client relationship does not require an express contract; such a relationship can be formed implicitly, as evidenced by the intention and conduct of the parties, xiii While the lawyer and the alleged client may have their own subjective opinions as to whether or not an attorney-client relationship has been formed and with which client (s), courts will generally apply objective evidence. Therefore, despite counsel's subjective opinion to the contrary, the reasonable perception of the alleged client may determine that person is a client of the lawyer, xiv. The information provided on this site does not constitute legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship will be formed or formed through the use of the site. An attorney-client relationship is considered to be established immediately after the prospective client seeks legal advice from the lawyer regarding the former's business.
App3d 560 (“It is the intention and conduct of the parties that is fundamental to the formation of the attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship can form slowly over time or quickly when services are needed immediately. Xiii While the lawyer and the alleged client may have their own subjective opinions as to whether or not an attorney-client relationship has been formed and with which client (s), courts will generally apply objective evidence. And, even if an attorney-client relationship has been established, it may not be entirely clear who the client is.
The imputation of an attorney-client relationship also applies with respect to certain other prohibitions under the Rules.