LinkedIn & Lawyers: Cease the Expertise

LinkedInAuditAccording to a Florida Bar advisory ethics opinion that came out September 11th, 2013, a lawyer is not permitted to list practices areas under the “Skill & Expertise” section of LinkedIn unless they are in fact board certified in those specific areas. If you’re unfamiliar with the areas in which certification is available, you can review the complete list on the Florida Bar’s Official Website.

This opinion becomes complicated for many attorneys, as that segment of their profile can also be populated by endorsements recommended from other LinkedIn connections. The skills & expertise feature replaced the preexisting “Specialties” section of LinkedIn, which was removed due to advertising ethical concerns as “specialties” would automatically appear on profiles without approval. Since LinkedIn automatically prompts you to endorse contacts upon log in, it basically encourages a process that has now fallen into a legal problem area. It is still unclear as to whether it is acceptable to have a skill listed where Board Certification is not required.

Some would even argue that the more endorsements they see on a user’s profile, the more likely they would be to hire them. So what happens if, as an attorney, you are unable to list any of said skills? Well, the next time you log into your profile and see that you’ve been endorsed, you would be wise for now to politely click “skip” and move on with your business. Sure, it may no longer appear on your profile, but at least you know that someone, somewhere thinks you’re special. If you prefer to avoid the misfortune of having your profile go under the hot seat, you can easily remove any skills that fall into this gray area. I can’t say this comes as a complete shock though, as it was also even advised during this year’s Legal Marketing Association Conference in Las Vegas that an attorney avoid this section of LinkedIn altogether.

The Standing Committee on Advertising will be holding a meeting on October 8th to discuss whether law firm profiles can list their areas of practice under a “specialties” heading. Read the full opinion here.

So for now, my lawyer friends, if you’ve ever been told that you can’t take a compliment, well, this time you really can’t.

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