Legal Ethics

Does your legal LinkedIn profile have off-base endorsements? Ethics opinion has a problem with that

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Lawyers with LinkedIn profiles should monitor their endorsements and recommendations for accuracy, according to an ethics opinion by a New York bar group.

Lawyers should exclude inaccurate recommendations and endorsements, according to the March 10 opinion (PDF) by the New York County Lawyers Association Professional Ethics Committee. The opinion provides an example. A lawyer who practices matrimonial law should remove an endorsement for international transactional law if the lawyer has no actual experience in the area.

The National Law Journal (sub. req.) noted the ethics opinion, which also addressed whether LinkedIn profiles in New York should be labeled attorney advertising and should include a disclaimer saying prior results don’t guarantee similar outcomes.

Lawyers may need to label their profiles as attorney advertising in some situations, the ethics opinion says. If the profile contains only a listing of education and employment history, no advertising disclaimer is needed. But the profile may be considered attorney advertising if a lawyer includes additional information, such as subjective statements about skills, areas of practice, endorsements, or testimonials from clients or colleagues.

Lawyers may also need to include the disclaimer, “Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome,” in four situations: If the LinkedIn profile includes testimonials, includes statements about the quality of the lawyer’s services, makes comparisons to other lawyers’ services, or includes statements creating an expectation about results the lawyer may achieve.

The opinion also considered when LinkedIn listings run afoul of the New York ethics rule allowing only appropriately certified lawyers to list specialties. Lawyers who list information under the “skills” or “endorsements” don’t violate the rule, the ethics opinion says.

But lawyers may not describe their services in a LinkedIn section called “specialties” unless they have certification as a specialist, according to a prior opinion by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Is LinkedIn’s endorsement feature ethical for lawyers?” “Do LinkedIn endorsements violate legal ethics rules?” “Law firms can’t describe ‘specialties’ on LinkedIn, New York ethics opinion says”

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