Should I Display “Endorsements” for “Skills and Expertise” on My LinkedIn Profile Page?

LinkedIn Expertise

I wouldn’t (and don’t). LinkedIn allows users to display endorsements for “Skills & Expertise” that have been noted by other LinkedIn subscribers.  For example, my LinkedIn profile page allows me to show that I have been “endorsed” for “Skills & Expertise” in various practice areas, including “legal ethics” and “lawyer discipline.” While such “endorsements” seem innocuous enough, they raise two potential disciplinary compliance problems that a lawyer should consider before accepting and displaying them on a profile page.

First, displaying an endorsement in a field in which the lawyer has no real “expertise” would be “false” or “misleading.” Louisiana Rule 7.2(c)(1)(B) prohibits a lawyer from making a “false, misleading or deceptive” communication. At least seven LinkedIn users have endorsed me as having “expertise” in the area of “wills.” Frankly, I don’t know anything about wills or succession law. For me to suggest such “expertise” by displaying an endorsement in that practice area would be improper.

Second, displaying endorsements for “expertise” may be misinterpreted as an inappropriate claim of “expert” status. Louisiana Rule 7.2(c)(5) provides that: “a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is ‘certified,’ ‘board certified,’ an ‘expert’ or a ‘specialist'” unless the lawyer is officially certified. The clear purpose of this rule is to prohibit false claims of official certification by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization. Despite this underlying purpose, the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel has pursued Louisiana lawyers who have harmlessly used such words on their websites. See, e.g., In re Laughlin, LADB No. 12-DB-08.Florida disciplinary authorities similarly have warned against the display of such endorsements.

LinkedIn Expertise EditMost lawyers who display an endorsement that they have “expertise” in certain practice areas don’t intend to suggest that the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization, or any other organization, has formally certified them as an “expert” in a field of practice. Nevertheless, given the unusually aggressive stance ODC has taken on this minor issue, I suggest that you edit your LinkedIn profile page to “turn off” the display of the endorsements that you have received for “Skills & Expertise” and delete all such references. I also suggest that you clear your “Summary” to make sure that no practice “specialty” is displayed on your profile. While many think this is silly (I certainly do), just do it to avoid the trouble.

So, how do you remove such endorsements from your LinkedIn page? My friend Ernie Svenson over at PaperlessChase.com has a short and helpful video on the topic that is embedded here: How to Remove LinkedIn Endorsements.