If you are a Florida lawyer, like everyone else in the game you are probably eager to expand your online professional network by adding as many connections as possible to your LinkedIn profile.
Should you add the judge who heard your last matter? You won the case, and you might have the opportunity to appear before him in future trials.
The answer is NO.
According to a May 9 opinion by Florida's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee (JEAC), it is not permissible for a judge to approve a lawyer who may appear before him as a LinkedIn connection. This is considered a violation of Canon 2B of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits a judge from conveying or permitting others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.
A 2009 opinion by the JEAC had already deemed it impermissible for a Judge to add a lawyer who may appear before him as a friend on Facebook or MySpace. (Does anybody still use MySpace?) The May 9 opinion confirms that these same rules apply to any professional networking site.
All is not lost for the judges, though. They can sill have a LinkedIn or Facebook profile. They just have to be selective about who they accept as a friend/connection.
This seems to be a reasonable opinion. After all, not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done. Even on LinkedIn.