Misrepresentation in attorney’s LinkedIn profile leads to ethics sanctions

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On December 19, 2016, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an order accepting a recommendation from the State’s Disciplinary Board to suspend an attorney for one year and one day for engaging in unauthorized practice of law.

Among other counts, the Respondent allegedly maintained a LinkedIn profile representing to the public to: (i) be an attorney at a firm located in Pennsylvania, (ii) have represented clients in Pennsylvania, (iii) be licensed to practice in Pennsylvania.

However, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel later assessed that the Respondent was licensed to practice in Colorado, not Pennsylvania. At the disciplinary hearing, the attorney claimed that “the false information he included in his LinkedIn profile was the result of his not being ‘careful in writing’ the profile.” He claimed to have made a mistake when he cut and pasted information from his resume into his profile.

However, the Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court deemed that Respondent’s misrepresentations were not attributable to “careless editing” and considered him guilty of having violated Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) 5.5(a), 5.5(b), and 8.4(c), 8.5(a), because of his engagement in unauthorized practice of law in Pennsylvania. “It appears that Respondent created a LinkedIn profile containing false information in order to attract clients in Pennsylvania and in other jurisdictions where he was not licensed to practice law.”

Colorado imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended the attorney for one year and one day.  RPC (CRPC) 251.5 and 251.21.

People v. Brendan James Magee. 17PDJ007. April 11, 2017 is available at http://www.coloradosupremecourt.us…   Open PDF

Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Magee, No. 137 DB 2015 is available at https://www.pabar.org…       Open PDF

For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

 

 

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