Removing barriers to Provide Access to Justice for All: Antree C. Demakos receives The J. Shirley Denison Award
Antree C. Demakos: Called to the Bar in 1992, Antree Demakos has devoted her entire career to demystifying the law and helping Canadians obtain better access to justice. She founded and continues to be the driving force behind Legal Line, a federal, non-profit organization.
For 25 years, she has helped millions of people obtain free legal answers and professional referrals through her pre-recorded, 24-hour information telephone line, live telephone support and the Legalline.ca website.
She collaborates with over 625 volunteer lawyers and judges who help keep the legal information up-to-date and accurate. She has also received the endorsement and support of 8,000 government and agency offices across Canada.
A growing concern is that the vast majority of the population has been left out of traditional access to justice programs. Their legal issues are numerous, including matters such as employment; tax; family law issues, including divorce and child custody and access; mortgages; immigration; business matters; insurance for life, health, or property; and litigation for breach of contract or injuries – to name a few.
By removing barriers to justice due to poverty, education, language, disability, gender and geographic distance, Ms. Demakos continues to empower citizens within the legal system.
What does this award mean to you?
This honour is the Silver Anniversary Celebration of Legal Line’s relationship with the Law Society.
I first introduced Legal Line to the Law Society in 1993; they understood my vision and were generous in providing their guidance. Shortly after launching Legal Line, the Law Society made the decision to dismantle its Dial-a-law program. I felt very proud to be able to provide our free services in its place.
With this prestigious award, the Law Society has recognized that Legal Line is succeeding in its goal to help provide access to justice. I am very honoured to receive this recognition.
Ms. Demakos first entered the legal profession to help people obtain justice and says that she is guided by the greatest healing powers in the world, which she feels are love and justice.
“The ability to assist many Canadians to get the legal help they require, without the fear and angst often associated with having to obtain legal services, I consider this to be my biggest professional achievement,” she explains . “The legal professions are striving to provide quality legal service in new and innovative ways and I believe we will succeed by streamlining procedures through the implementation of technology.”
Ms. Demakos plans to encourage legal professionals to get involved with Legal Line, which will allow them to expand their service, while also increasing access to much-needed legal assistance.
In April 2015, Convocation approved the establishment of an award in honour of a former Treasurer, John Shirley Denison, and his commitment to helping others. It is bestowed annually in recognition of significant contributions to access to justice and/or poverty issues. Both lawyer and paralegal licensees of the Law Society of Ontario are eligible.
This year, 10 exceptional members of the legal professions were honoured by The Law Society at its annual awards ceremony on May 23rd.