LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Whether you’re a lawyer or law student, you know the importance of having a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has an estimated 433 million users as of April 2016. In addition, more than 2 billion LinkedIn endorsements have been given out since the feature was launched in 2012. Endorsements are a great way for others to highlight your skills. However, there are some ethical issues to consider when handling LinkedIn endorsements.
A LinkedIn member has the option of displaying a “skills & expertise” section within his profile. A member can add items to the “skills & expertise” section of his profile page. In addition, some connections can add a new item to another member’s “skills & expertise” section, can “endorse” a skill or expertise already listed for the member, or write a recommendation for the member. A member who is being endorsed by another member will receive a notification containing the identity of the endorser and the specific skill or expertise that is being endorsed. The member may decline the endorsement entirely or choose the specific endorsements to be displayed. The endorsed member may also subsequently edit the “skills & expertise” section to “hide” selected endorsements. If a member endorses another member, and the endorsement is not declined by the recipient, the endorser’s name and profile picture will appear next to the skill on the endorsed member’s profile.
A recommendation is a comment written by a LinkedIn member to recognize or commend another member. When someone recommends a member, the recommended member will receive a message in the recommended member’s LinkedIn inbox and a notification on the member’s “Manage Recommendations” page. Recommendations are only visible to connections. A member can choose to hide a recommendation from the member’s profile but cannot delete it. Recommendations written for others can be withdrawn or revised.
May a lawyer endorse a judge’s legal skills or expertise or write a recommendation on the judge’s profile page?
Yes, subject to the limitations explained in Opinion #1.
May a lawyer accept an endorsement or recommendation from a judge and display the endorsement or recommendation on his profile page?
No. Displaying an endorsement or recommendation from a judge on a lawyer’s profile page would create the appearance of judicial partiality and the lawyer must decline. See Rule 8.4(e).
May a lawyer accept and post endorsements and recommendations on his LinkedIn profile page from persons other than judges?
Lawyers are professionally obligated to ensure that communications about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services are not false or misleading. See Rule 7.1(a). Provided that the content of the endorsement or recommendation is truthful and not misleading in compliance with the requirements of Rule 7.1, the lawyer may post endorsements and recommendations from persons other than judges on the lawyer’s LinkedIn profile page. See 2012 FEO 8.
While LinkedIn is a powerful networking and recruiting tool, it’s important to think twice before receiving endorsements.
If you notice someone has endorsed you for a practice area or skill set that you don’t have, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to remove the endorsement(s) from your profile.
Quick steps to hide inaccurate endorsements and skills from your LinkedIn profile
1) Click “Edit Profile” and scroll down to the “skills and endorsements” section.
2) Click the “add skill” option. This section will give you a few options about endorsement notifications.
Tip: I recommend selecting the option that allows email notifications when you are endorsed. Selecting this option will make it easier for you to manage your profile and quickly catch inaccurate endorsements.
3) Click “add or remove skills”. In this section make sure the skills listed reflect your actual skill set.
4) Click the “manage endorsements” option. Here you will be able to hide any inaccurate endorsements from your profile. This could include hiding the endorsement from someone who wouldn’t know if you actually possess the skills for which they endorsed you.
Maintaining a LinkedIn profile means being proactive about ensuring the accuracy of the information displayed. LinkedIn has an excellent Help Center that walks you through everything from changing your password to growing your network. For more tips on managing your social media, check out our Social Media Toolkit.