Florida Bar’s Social Media Guidelines Get Mixed Reviews

Social media plays a central role in today’s society, for both personal and public use. Social media can be a beneficial outlet for communication with clients and other lawyers, as it is meant to be quick and efficient. Since May 2013 social networking has been explicitly governed by the Florida Bar’s attorney advertising rules. Some lawyers feel that the new rules inhibit the lawyers’ use of social media and diminish its usefulness. Consequently, some Florida lawyers are frustrated and have been vocal in criticizing the rules.

Critics of the rules point out that routine LinkedIn activity may lead to consequences under the advertising rules. For instance, LinkedIn users can receive endorsements from other users for skills they allegedly possess. LinkedIn users often accept these endorsements to enhance their profiles. Even though these endorsements come from a third party and are not controlled by the user, clicking ‘accept’ could expose an attorney to prosecution for a disciplinary violation. Attorneys must make sure that their LinkedIn pages contain only truthful endorsements. Thus, Florida lawyers need to be aware of these rules when dealing with their social media pages. These new restrictions arguably render social media more time-consuming than it was designed to be by requiring that lawyers invest more time and care into their social media profiles. Perhaps, as a result, “social-media specialist” will be a popular, new position in the legal world.

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