2018-01-11 13:09:39

A lawyer in southern China has found herself in hot water after her social media posts went viral on Tuesday.

Ya Ba, a Weibo microblog account with more than a million followers, shared screenshots allegedly taken from the WeChat and Weibo feeds of Zhang Qing, a lawyer at Beijing Yingke Law Firm’s Shenzhen office, on Tuesday. The account mocked the lawyer for her ostentatious posturing in which she name-drops labels like Burberry, Chanel, and Cartier.

The posts then saw the lawyer lambasted for her lavish lifestyle — and by Wednesday, investigated for false advertising, because netizens spotted inaccuracies in her posts about her qualifications.

By Thursday, Sixth Tone found that Zhang had deleted all her Weibo posts, and her WeChat profile was not publicly accessible.

The viral screenshots show Zhang flaunting her wealth and status. In one, Zhang claims she charges 3,600 yuan ($550) per hour. She also laughed at couples who rent wedding outfits instead of wearing haute couture. “If a man can’t let you be a princess for at least one day, all you can expect for the rest of your life is a second marriage,” she added.

Another screenshot shows Zhang narrating her experience at the U.S. visa office. She writes about surprising the visa officer with her perfect English while her colleague’s son takes care of her bag, purchased in Paris for nearly 50,000 yuan. She also mentions that she is “a partner at the biggest law firm in the Asia Pacific” and “graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Peking University, China’s No. 1 tertiary education institute.”

Netizens, however, questioned the authenticity of her claims.

Beijing Yingke Law Firm, Zhang’s employer, was established in 2011 and describes itself as “the biggest law firm in the Asia Pacific region.” But though Zhang’s Weibo account states that she is a partner at the firm’s Shenzhen bureau, her profile page on the company website lists her as a “full-time lawyer” rather than a partner.

Meanwhile, online sources also alleged that Zhang did not earn her bachelor’s degree from Peking University, but merely took a short correspondence course at the esteemed institution. When Sixth Tone contacted Peking University on Thursday, the law school’s administrator said she did not have information on past graduates, while the school’s publicity office did not answer the phone.

On Wednesday, Guangdong Lawyers Association, the provincial supervisory body in charge of the legal profession, issued a letter to Shenzhen Lawyers Association, which falls under the former’s jurisdiction. “Our association has learned that Zhang Qing, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm’s Shenzhen office, is allegedly involved in false advertising online,” the letter stated.

Li Wenxu, an employee at Guangdong Lawyers Association, told Sixth Tone on Thursday that the case is now under investigation.

According to Chinese law, a lawyer must practice for at least three years before becoming a partner in a law firm. Shenzhen Lawyers Association’s website shows that Zhang only acquired her certificate to practice in September 2015.

The official code of conduct regulating the legal profession states that lawyers must be honest, faithful, and diligent. False or inappropriate claims could mislead the public and “ruin the legal industry’s reputation,” state broadcaster CCTV reported Thursday.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: EyeEm Premium/VCG)