Skip to main content

Need a lawyer? Then you might want to try a restaurant in Little India, in the east end of Toronto.

For the past month, the Lahore Tikka House's customers have received bills that end with a small ad for Azam Murji, a high-profile criminal lawyer in the South Asian community.

For Mr. Murji, it's a great way to target clients in that community. "You want to be creative when getting the message out to the potential clientele," he says. "Nowadays, it's really about being efficient in targeted marketing."

Story continues below advertisement

Advertising in the legal community has evolved considerably since 1987, when the Law Society of Upper Canada allowed lawyers to start marketing their services.

It used to be that lawyers would just place an ad in the Yellow Pages. No longer. Lawyers are increasingly opting for other ways to spread their name among potential customers. They're accepting speaking engagements, appearing as guests on call-in radio shows and sponsoring tournaments.

"Law is just like any other business, that's why many choose to advertise," said Russ Howe, president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

In Mr. Murji's case, the idea of having his name printed on the bottom of bills came from the restaurant's owner, Alnoor Fayani, as a favour to his long-time friend. "There are a lot of people in my community who don't know where to go when they need a lawyer," said Mr. Fayani, adding that his restaurant doesn't charge Mr. Murji for the ad.

"He has already defended clients for free, so I want my customers to know they can trust him," said Mr. Fayani, who insists that promoting Mr. Murji's practice is not advertising, but rather a way to serve his community.

Mr. Murji hasn't kept tabs on the effectiveness of his marketing campaign, but noted "the restaurant caters to about 500 people in a given day."

The sprawling immigrant market has been a gold mine for lawyers. From 1991 to 2001, the number of South Asians, for example, has nearly doubled, with more than half living in the Toronto area, according to a 2003 report by Statistics Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

And as competition among immigration lawyers has grown stiffer in recent years, many firms have stepped up their efforts to reach out to them.

"Immigration lawyers have to do more to distinguish themselves in the eyes of the clientele," said Janet Bomza, chair of the Ontario Bar Association's immigration section.

Ms. Bomza's firm has sponsored a golf tournament. She has considered the possibility of sponsoring South Asian festivities and film festivals. "You never know what will work," she said.

Advertising has paid off for Ms. Bomza. About a year ago, an American investor interested in immigrating to Canada called her firm after seeing its ad in a magazine while at an Indian restaurant in California.

Likewise, Max Berger, an immigration lawyer who has dealt with Somali refugee cases, has diversified his ad campaign. An occasional guest speaker on a Tamil radio station, Mr. Berger has sponsored several ethnic sports events, among them this week's soccer tournament in the Somali community.

"There's nothing creative about this," Mr. Berger said.

Story continues below advertisement

While the Law Society of Upper Canada places no restrictions on where lawyers can promote their services, it requires the ads to be tasteful.

"I think that taste or bad taste is a very subjective thing," Mr. Murji said. "If it's done in a way that commands respect, it gets the attention of potential consumers."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter