It might not be surprising that an ethical issue is being discussed and deliberated in the Florida law community. However, it might seem unusual to some that the issue surrounds LinkedIn, the popular social network for professionals, including in this case, lawyers and their firms. Even those who have never visited the website are undoubtedly familiar with the barrage of e-mails inviting them to do so.
This is serious business. It all starts with a new set of rules that was adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in May of 2013, which governed the use of internet marketing by Florida lawyers. The rules were intended to discourage deceptive, manipulative, misleading information, limiting online marketing content to “objectively verifiable” results, characterizations, and testimonials. While Florida lawyers have always worked with relatively strict advertising limitations, this was the first time the restrictions were extended to their websites.
In an attempt to comply with the new rules, law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA asked the bar to advise them on which statements from their online presence met the “objectively verifiable” requirement. They were not satisfied with the response they received.