October 30, 2013 Articles

Users of LinkedIn, Beware!

Attorneys need to understand the state ethics rules governing lawyer social media before implementing a LinkedIn page.

By Karen Painter Randall and Steven A. Kroll

In our competitive world, businesses are using new forms of technology to market and network. As a result, many law firms are taking advantage of social-media websites to connect with both clients and fellow members of the bar. One popular tool for this is LinkedIn,  a professional networking website that allows you to create either a personal or company profile accessible to other members of the website. While the benefits of this website are endless, an attorney must always be cognizant of the ethical implications in using such a social-media tool.

One of the popular features of LinkedIn allows your connections to “endorse” your “Skills and Expertise.” Often, these endorsements come from connections who have no firsthand knowledge of your actual skills but who simply wish to help a friend gain business with hopes that you will return the favor of endorsing them down the road. Moreover, your connections also have the ability to write testimonials praising your work. The question then becomes: Do these endorsements and testimonials violate any applicable ethical codes? Unfortunately, with social media evolving daily, there is no clear answer, as jurisdictions struggle with how to address these potentially new forms of attorney advertising. However, a review of the ABA Model Rules and some recent ethics opinions from various jurisdictions sheds some light on where to draw the line in using these types of social-media websites.

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