Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent New York ethics opinion which addresses the ethics issues surrounding the use of Linkedin.com to describe the areas of practice of lawyers and law firms. The ethics opinion is New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion 972 (6/26/13). The opinion is also online here: http://www.nysba.org/Content/ContentFolders/EthicsOpinions/Opinions901975/EO_972.pdf.
According to the ethics opinion, law firms are prohibited from listing the firm’s services in a section of LinkedIn listed as “Specialties” since New York Bar Rules only permit individual lawyers to state that they have been certified as specialists. A law firm is allowed to identify areas of its law practice; however, listing ” those areas under a heading of ‘Specialties,’ would constitute a claim that the lawyer or law firm ‘is a specialist or specializes in a particular field of law” and only individual lawyers are permitted to be certified in New York
Bottom line: this New York ethics opinion states that law firms may not list their services under the heading “Specialties” on Linkedin (and other social media websites) and individual lawyer are permitted to list their services under that heading only if the lawyer is certified as required under the New York Bar Rules. Since most, if not all, other jurisdictions have similar rules, I would anticipate that Florida and other jurisdictions examine this subject will agree with this analysis.
Be careful out there!
Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670