Puzzling lawyer behavior

As I try to do on a weekly basis, I was browsing around on LinkedIn this morning when something caught my eye. While reviewing the list of “people I might know,” I saw an attorney with the name Susanna H.

Just Susanna H.

This particular attorney works for a law firm, and yet she has apparently chosen to not reveal her last name to people using LinkedIn.

Now most lawyers use LinkedIn as a way to make electronic connections with people they know. Lawyers who want to get a bit more out of LinkedIn tailor their profiles to help people find them. This can be done by using key words in the profile to describe the services the lawyer provides.

Either way, part of the usefulness of LinkedIn is its ability to let people find you by searching. I think, however, Susanna H. is going to have a harder time being found by someone looking for her. How many people will wade through tens of pages to find her out of all the Susannas on LinkedIn? In fairness, perhaps Susanna is not worried about people searching for her by name, and she hopes she will show up in search results when people are looking for a lawyer in her field of practice.

I still see something wrong with this thinking. How many of us would hire a professional who doesn’t reveal his or her last name? Even Dr. Phil lets people know his last name, even if he doesn’t use it in the title of his show. Consider this: would you hire a lawyer whose phone book entry read “William W”? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t hire a physician whose phone book entry was “Robert C” either.

Many people online are concerned about privacy, and they probably feel that not disclosing their last names on LinkedIn is a way to protect their privacy. This may be true, but the practice defeats the purpose of the web site’s service. There are plenty of sites where privacy is a major concern (Facebook, anyone?), but a directory of professionals and business colleagues probably isn’t one of them.

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