More than 84 million people in 200 different countries use LinkedIn to connect to other professionals both within and outside of their respective industries. In fact, while LinkedIn is heavily used by professionals in various industries, this is by far the most popular social media platform used by attorneys.
Despite its usefulness and popularity for lawyers, however, LinkedIn has become a target for some criticism in the legal industry, particularly when it comes to the use and meaning of LinkedIn’s endorsements and the possible ethical issues that may arise from them.
Ethical Issue 1: What exactly does a LinkedIn endorsement mean for attorneys?
As some industry professionals at the American Bar Association (ABA) have pointed out, there is not a clear definition of what a LinkedIn endorsement really means in terms of a lawyer’s actual skills. For instance, does an endorsement mean that an attorney is proficient at a specific skill? If so, how is this proficiency determined?
Where this issue may generate ethical concerns for attorneys is in the fact that:
- Others can easily “endorse” them for skills they don’t have simply because these other people may think the attorneys likely have these skills (for example, a lawyer may be endorsed for litigation when, in fact, he or she rarely steps foot inside of a courtroom).
- LinkedIn often prompts people to endorse others and may even suggest likely endorsements to give. This kind of baiting can increase the risk that inappropriate endorsements are given (either in that a person is endorsed for something he or she doesn’t do or that person who isn’t qualified to give a proper endorsement does so simply to get on an attorney’s LinkedIn radar).
Check out the upcoming second installment of this blog for a few more ethical issues that the ABA has identified as potential concerns for attorneys who use LinkedIn.
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