10/28/13

Can LinkedIn Get Lawyers In Trouble With Their State Bar? Maybe

LinkedIn provides a great service for professionals, and lots of lawyers are members of the online site.  However, given the prohibitions placed upon attorneys by their respective bars and supervising authorities over marketing, solicitation, maintaining the appearance of propriety, etc., there's been a lot of discussion over how attorneys can be active on LinkedIn without getting in trouble with their State Bar Associations or State Supreme Courts.

Skills and Expertise in LinkedIn Bios - Careful About Those Practice Areas

Consider the recent Florida Bar Association advisory opinion on LinkedIn's profiles.  It is the opinion of the Florida regulatory authority that Florida lawyers should not list his or her practice areas under the "Skills and Expertise" section of their LinkedIn bio unless they have achieved Board Certification.

For those who follow LinkedIn regularly, this may seem a little over the top.  Still, Florida lawyers -- know that you cannot list your practices in the Skills and Expertise section until something changes with the Florida Bar.

And that's not all.

Endorsements?  Uninvited LinkedIn Endorsements May Not Meet State Bar Approval, Either.

You've seen all those endorsements that pop up for you?  People you know well or barely at all, endorsing you for all sorts of things?

Well, if those endorsements involve legal areas, then take heed.  Maybe these will get you in trouble with your State Bar, too, even though you have had zip to do with being endorsed.  These are uninvited surprises to LinkedIn members as other people take the step to endorse them for something.  It's not done by the lawyer.

From the Bar's perspective, these endorsements may be in violation of Bar Rules.  Florida may find them to be in violation of the same Ethics Rule that bars the above Skills and Expertise listing of practice areas:  in Florida, it may be that these endorsements can only be legally placed on an attorney's LinkedIn page if that Florida lawyer is Board Certified in that area.  

Illinois, according to opinions given in the Illinois Bar Association, finds that LinkedIn endorsements for Illinois lawyers is okay with the Illinois Bar.

For more on the Florida endorsement issue, go here for local lawyers' take on things and go here to read Robert Ambrogi's discussion of the situation.


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