Many lawyers use various social media platforms for professional development and networking. LinkedIn is one of those important platforms for the purposes of professional development and network expansion. Many lawyers maintain LinkedIn profiles and consider LinkedIn an essential component of our online presence. Among LinkedIn’s most popular features is the ability to endorse various connections and be endorsed. According to LinkedIn, skill endorsements are a simple and effective way of building your professional brand and engaging your network. However, while this can be helpful, endorsements do not require a thorough analysis and can take a professional into uncharted territories if not handled properly. Indeed, when a lawyer accepts and publishes LinkedIn endorsements that are suspect, is he or she violating the Law Society Rules of Professional Conduct?
According to the Code, all marketing used to promote a lawyer’s practice must be:
(a) demonstrably true, accurate and verifiable;
(b) neither misleading, confusing, or deceptive, nor likely to mislead, confuse or deceive; and
(c) in the best interests of the public and is consistent with a high standard of professionalism.
Examples of marketing that may contravene these rules include “using testimonials or endorsements which contain emotional appeals.”
A lawyer’s LinkedIn profile can be an excellent tool in developing his or her professional branding. However, we all have to be careful with respect to misplaced endorsements that may actually detract from our reputation rather than enhance it. We control what shows up on our profile and are responsible for the content. It should be any lawyer’s duty to remove inaccurate and false endorsements from their profiles.
While many social media platforms, including LinkedIn, carry a great potential for the legal profession overall as well as the marketing of other professional services, the law in this area continues to evolve. Since the Law Society Rules of Professional Conduct apply to lawyers’ activities both online and offline, our LinkedIn profiles must be demonstrably true, accurate and verifiable.