By Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel | October 27, 2013
The ever-changing social media world has created ethical dilemmas for attorneys. Change may be in the offing, and two South Florida lawyers are leading an evaluation of rules on technology, including the use of LinkedIn, a professional networking website.
LinkedIn’s “endorsement” feature may cross the ethics line if the lawyer is not board-certified as an “expert,” said Greg Coleman, a West Palm Beach lawyer who heads the Bar’s technology subcommittee.
LinkedIn, where connections can endorse someone for a certain skill or expertise, is potentially causing thousands of Florida lawyers to be out of compliance with state ethic rules, he said.
Eugene Pettis, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who heads The Florida Bar, and Coleman, who is president-elect, are seeking to update the Bar’s rules for lawyers on technology use, including social media. In September, the Florida Bar began a three-year study of the future practice of law.
“These technologies are changing so quickly, the Bar is having a hard time keeping up with the changes,” said Coleman, a partner with Burman, Critton, Luttier & Coleman. “We’re trying to figure out how to advise members.”
Coleman said he recognizes that LinkedIn is a general-use website and that lawyers on the site have no control over their contacts opting to endorse their skills.
Brian Moskowitz, a Boynton Beach-based family law attorney, said he took down the endorsements part of his LinkedIn profile when he heard about the Florida Bar’s concerns.
But he doesn’t see why a LinkedIn endorsement would be unethical. “I’m not making a statement — a third party is. I have no control over it,” he said.
Boca Raton real estate lawyer Chad Silverman said the situation is unfortunate because LinkedIn is an effective networking tool.
“Like all other rules from the Florida Bar, it’s not good for honest attorneys and businessmen but necessary for dishonest attorneys and businessmen,” he said.