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.


Prenda Lawyers: The Zaniness Just Keeps On Coming — But When Are These Guys Going to Get Zapped?

“So, what’s the latest with Prenda?” asked my client, and instead of filling him in on things personally, I thought I’d just post an update here.

First of all, you may remember Prenda (we’ve been following their antics for awhile now). Now, there’s even a nice summary page over at Wikipedia, where the Prenda Law Firm is described as “… a Chicago, Illinois-based law firm that claims it battles copyright piracy, but is also strongly identified with copyright trolling.”

BoingBoing labels them grifters, but whatever.

Prenda, or following what’s happening in courts all over the country delving into Prenda-activities, is just a hoot. Yes, maybe a geeky-lawyer hoot, but a hoot nevertheless.

For the latest, check out Techdirt’s latest (they’ve been doing a great job of tracking Prenda stuff), “Report From The Court Room On Latest Prenda Hearing In Minnesota: Another Hearing, Another Mess,” by Nancy Sims as well as its recap, “Prenda Soap Opera: Steele Contradicts His Own Previous Claims, Lutz Disappears Again... And The Mother-in-Law Surprise.”

For even more, there’s Boing Boing’s article “Porno copyright troll John Steele accused of identity theft -- by his mother-in-law,” which includes a link to their earlier coverage.

A tidbit of things:  Prenda’s Mark Lutz never seems to show up. He’s been a no show in court, he’s failed to come to depositions, and the excuses as to why Lutz isn’t where he’s suppose to be are amazing not only in how long it takes to provide one, but the reasons for his no-show are worthy of a jaw-drop in their own right.

There’s simply too much here to share in a short blog post, but hopefully these links will help you catch up with this infamous Porno Copyright as a Practice Area law firm.


Google Constitute Project -- Amazing Stuff. I Love Google So Much.

Google is great and I sure hope they're not secretly evil.  Yes, I know their motto is to do no evil, but the Bible warns us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light - and I sure hope Google isn't deceiving me (and you).  All that brouhaha over in Europe over Google's privacy and security issues (France may be imposing fines on Google shortly over storage concerns, for example) does give one pause.

Then, just when I start really thinking about Google and wondering about all the bad juju I'm reading about them, well -- it's just like my first husband and what I learned later were his "guilt gifts."

Google up and launches Constitute for me.  Well, for everyone, of course.

And I'm back dancing around and all happy happy happy with Google again.  I'm so easy.

It's not enough that I love Google Scholar.  (Though I'm really, really ready for statutes to be included there, too.)

Nope.  Now, Google has created a site where I can surf around through various national constitutions, either by country or by topic.

It's fascinating.  For example, go search topics for "shari'a" and you'll get three constitutions:

Bahrain 2002, Libya 2011, and Somalia 2012.

Read them.  They're not that difficult to read -- they've all been translated into English.  (And if you don't know about shari'a law, then rectify that quickly, here.)

Then read ours.  The U.S. Constitution.  Remember this?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America....
I love Google for so many things.  Its dedication to quality.  Its dependability.  Its zeal for moving forward and developing new things.  And I think I love Google because it exemplifies something that I believe is critical for every human being: a love of learning.


Yelp Online Review Site Sues California Lawyer for Fake Reviews

Yelp.com has sued a California law firm for allegedly fake reviews posted on the review site - read the details in a news story published in Bloomberg Businessweek which includes a link to the complaint that has been filed in the California court.

The defendants here are McMillan Law Group, Inc., and Julian McMillan, who practices bankruptcy in San Diego, California.

The twist to this story:  McMillan sued Yelp.com earlier this year - and won.  Yelp successfully appealed that decision according to the Business Insider and now, Yelp has sued the lawyer in another lawsuit.

There's more coverage with more details, if you're interested:   the Wall Street Journal has blogged about it; and ArsTechnica.com reports that the Yelp case has been ordered to binding arbitration.

What I find interesting about all this is that: (1) apparently, Yelp has yet to make a profit on its review site, where revenues come in from advertising; and (2) allegedly, lawyers are not only getting friends and family and employees to write sweet and wonderful reviews for their Yelp profits but lawyers are also purportedly grouping together, so that firms can submit glowing reviews about each other's practices on Yelp.com, too (this all, according to Yelp).

Two things:

1.  If Yelp isn't turning a profit, then how long can it survive?  Just wondering here.
2.  I realize that lawyers come in all shapes and sizes, but asking Aunt Harriet to write a fake Yelp review, or forming some secret review society to chock the site with fake reviews for the group?  Sure, I'm jaded enough to think that there may be some lawyers out there doing this.  I just don't know any lawyer that would bother.  They don't have enough hours in the day as it is.   And I mean, really.