What’s My Line? – Your LinkedIn Endorsements
October 6, 2014
Unlike the game show “What’s My Line” from the 1960’s where celebrity panelists had to guess the occupation of contestants by asking a series of questions, you don’t want to leave prospective clients guessing about your “line” of work. First, you have an obligation under the ethics rules to ensure that you only post truthful and accurate information about your services on social networking sites. Second, it just makes no sense from a marketing perspective. If you practice only family law, why would you advertise your skills as a real estate practitioner? This is what could happen, however, if you are not careful about the endorsements you accept through LinkedIn.
Have you ever received an endorsement through LinkedIn for an area of practice that you don’t do? I once received an endorsement for patent law. What?! Well, I’ve learned to just ignore those endorsements that have nothing to do with my practice, but not after accepting a few of them, just to see what would happen. If you have accepted LinkedIn endorsements for areas in which you do not currently practice, even inadvertently, then you need to visit your LinkedIn profile, and hide those endorsements/practice areas. I am not the person who can best tell you how to do that. I fiddled around with my profile for awhile until I figured it out — I think. But, suffice it to say that if you are showing practice areas on LinkedIn that you do not do, then you must take some action to delete or hide those practice areas and the corresponding endorsements.
The failure to do so would be a violation of Rule 7.1(a). This Rule provides that every communication about your services must be truthful and not misleading. If you have created a LinkedIn profile, you have control over your information on that site, including your profile, your connections and your endorsements. Unlike some other social networking sites, LinkedIn gives you lots of flexibility about what to show and what may be deleted. Because you have control over the contents of your LinkedIn profile, you must periodically review it to ensure it is accurate. If you change practice areas, review your profile to see if it needs to be updated or modified. Also, if you change employment, promptly add your new employer to your profile so it does not appear you are still working at your old firm.
Bottom Line: Make sure your LinkedIn profile accurately shows “What’s Your Line” so you don’t get in trouble with the Bar.