Lawyers’ Specialties on LinkedIn: New York State Bar Association Tackles Another Social Media Issue

Social media is proliferating in the practice of law and the New York State Bar Association has stepped up to the plate to opine on some of the ethics issues arising as a result of lawyers using social media.  (Click here to read our recent post about another NYSBA opinion regarding Facebook evidence.)  The NYSBA has commented on the LinkedIn option to list a specialty and has concluded that law firms may not list their specific areas of practice under the “Specialties” section of a social media site, but an individual lawyer may do so if he or she has been certified as a specialist by an approved organization or governmental authority.

Under New York Rule of Professional Conduct 7.4(a), a lawyer or law firm can identify the areas in which the lawyer or law firm practices, but the lawyer or law firm “shall not state that the lawyer or law firm is a specialist or specializes in a particular field of law, except as provided in Rule 7.4(c).”  Rule 7.4(c) allows a lawyer to state that she is certified as a specialist in a particular area if the lawyer is certified by a private organization approved by the ABA or a governmental entity.  This opinion reinforces the ethics rules and illustrates the growing trend of state bar associations issuing advisory opinions to address the impact of social media on the practice of law.

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