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7 Attorney Mistakes on LinkedIn

March 16th, 2022

I am not a social media expert but rather an attorney who uses social media. Social media skills have been something I have learned over time, by trial and error, starting with my Facebook account in 2005. Intentional usage of social media as a networking tool is something I didn’t begin until later, as I began learning how to network. There is a dance to be learned with both traditional networking and with social media networking. As an attorney less than three years into practice, I’m still learning how to improve my networking dance, but over time I have picked up on several mistakes that I or others have made while using social media. Here are some common LinkedIn mistakes specific to attorneys:

Complying with attorney ethics rules.

Although this section will be considered the most important section by many attorneys, I intend to keep it short. There are a lot of seminars and articles that scare attorneys away from social media; these seminars and articles focus more on ethical issues than on giving advice on how to effectively use social media. This is unfortunate: social media is here to stay and attorneys should learn how to use it.

LinkedIn profiles are construed as advertising in some states and so you should ensure that your profile complies with your state’s ethical rules. If you are an Indiana attorney, make sure your profile complies with Rules 7.1 and 7.2 of the Indiana Professional Rules of Conduct. As of October 2010, the Rules were modified and the former rule that testimonials are absolutely not permitted has been eliminated. You still need to be cautious if you want to have testimonials: pursuant to the Comments in Rule 7.1, third parties cannot make statements about you that you could not make about yourself. Also, if you are admitted to the bar in Indiana, you should not list a “specialty” on your LinkedIn profile unless you are certified by an agency or fall under one of the other exceptions of Rule 7.4.

Although this section was listed first, the remaining sections are equally important as they cover mistakes that negate your original purpose for joining LinkedIn. Attorneys are trained from law school to read and interpret ethics rules whereas the business potential and networking uses behind social media are usually learned over time while in practice. Don’t let the risks of ethical violations subsume your purpose for joining LinkedIn.

Failing to target your audience.

Targeting your audience is an important step: you need to do this to get more benefit out of LinkedIn.

Who are you hoping will see your profile? Potential clients? Potential employers? Legal recruiters? Potential partners? Potential referral sources? Others who can help further your career?

The audience will affect how you should portray yourself on LinkedIn and how you use LinkedIn. If you’re aiming for multiple audiences, like most attorneys, then you will need to try to keep all of your target audiences in mind. LinkedIn frequently shows up as an individual’s first “hit” in an online search and so it is a great way to market to those who are researching you.

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