Would you ever let someone you barely know design your next print advertisement for your law practice? Of course you wouldn’t. But, if you’re allowing your LinkedIn connections to endorse you for your “Skills & Expertise,” and adding this information to your profile page, you’re effectively making public statements about you and your law practice that may not be in your best interest.
By now, you have likely noticed a recent LinkedIn feature called “Endorsements” for your Skills & Expertise as a lawyer. These broad categories include “Civil Litigation,” “Appeals,” “Legal Writing” and various other law-related skills. There seems to be no criteria (or rhyme or reason) your connections use to endorse your Skills & Expertise.
Granted, you must click “Add to Profile” for the endorsement to appear on your LinkedIn page; nevertheless, it’s an option you should think twice about before deciding to accept. These “endorsements” may have come from a wide variety of people, ranging from your clients to friends and family who have never used your legal services. Worse yet, you may have been endorsed in areas of law you have never handled.
Thoughtlessly hitting that “Add to Profile” button permits your connections to make public statements on your public LinkedIn profile regarding your Skills & Expertise – even if you lack sufficient expertise in those areas.
Rule 7.1 of the Rhode Island Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits a lawyer from making “a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.”
So, if one of your LinkedIn connections endorses you for “Patent Law” and you have never handled a patent case, have you violated Rule 7.1? There is currently no clear guidance or answer to this question, but a strong argument could be made that if you become aware of such a false endorsement and do not remove it from your LinkedIn profile, you are perpetuating this false impression.