According to a September 11, 2013 advisory opinion from the Florida Bar, Florida lawyers may not list their areas of practice under the LinkedIn header, “Skills and Experience,” without being board certified in that area.
The opinion arises from Rule 4-7.14(a)(4), which says that a lawyer cannot claim to be “certified” or a “specialist” or “expert” unless certified by the Bar, ABA, or another state bar.
While Rule 4-7.14(b) allows some qualifying language, the Bar wrote, “… it is the staff’s position that providing language in the Linked In profile indicating that you are not board certified and not an expert will not remedy this situation.”
The New York Bar agrees (see Opinion 972).
Will the Bar change its mind? Will LinkedIn change its wording? An October 8, 2013 Standing Committee on Advertising meeting is reportedly looking into a similar issue.
Until then, I am deleting all of my Skills & Endorsements with the exception of those which are not practice areas. For example, I still have skills in, say, public speaking. And I believe being a certified mediator and/or a qualified arbitrator permits me to list dispute resolution skills. See here.
Before you panic about the loss of your “endorsements,” it appears that LinkedIn saves them since, after you delete them, they offer ways to retrieve them.
Steps to Remove Skills and Endorsements from LinkedIn:
1. Log in to LinkedIn and hit “Profile” tab in upper left corner.
2. Select “edit profile” from the drop down menu.
3. Scroll down to “Skills and Endorsements” and hit the “edit” button just to the right.
4. For any “Skill” which is a practice area, hit the “x” and delete it.
5. Hit the “save” button. Very important!
6. Scroll back up. Under your photo, hit the “done editing” button.
7. Go view your profile page.
Note: this opinion deals with the “skills.” It did not get to the issue of “endorsements.” So hiding your endorsements (as LinkedIn explains here) is irrelevant.
For some background, the Florida advertising rules are here.