LinkedIn: Attorneys Beware of Specialties & Expertise

More than 200 million people around the world have professional profiles on LinkedIn, and many attorneys and law firms have joined the social networking site. However, LinkedIn is yet another example of technology advancing at a rapid pace that is sometimes out of sync with the attorney advertising rules.

For example, LinkedIn provides the option for an individual to list areas of specialization or expertise by choosing categories that LinkedIn provides. This option has raised questions for Florida attorneys as is appears to conflict with the attorney advertising rules.  In fact, according to the initial response to one attorney’s inquiry, the advertising committee explained that “[a] lawyer can only state or imply that the lawyer is ‘certified,’ a “specialist,’ or an ‘expert’ if the lawyer is certified by the Florida Bar.” Therefore, most of the LinkedIn’s descriptive options should not be added to a Florida attorney’s profile.

LinkedIn was also a focus at the October 29, 2013 of the Standing Committee on Advertising (SCA) as it considered a law firm’s inquiry about listing the firm’s specialties. The SCA advised that a law firm may not list areas of practice under the “specialties” header because a law firm cannot be certified. The SCA acknowledged that the LinkedIn page used by law firms does not offer the firm any flexibility as to the choice of LinkedIn terminology and agreed to contact LinkedIn regarding its system’s clash with the Florida attorney advertising rules.

Click here to read more about the current state of SCA’s approach to LinkedIn.

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