About National Legal Aid

Who we are

National Legal Aid (NLA) represents the directors of the eight state and territory legal aid commissions in Australia.

The legal aid commissions are independent statutory bodies that provide legal assistance services to the public, with a particular focus on the needs of people who are economically and/or socially disadvantaged.

One of the NLA directors, on a rotation basis, is the Chair and primary spokesperson for NLA. The current Chair of NLA is Dr Graham Hill, Director of Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania.

Graham Hill | NLA Chair

Graham is the current Chair of NLA and is the Director of the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania.

Graham came from the Department of Justice in Victoria where he had spent three years in a Deputy Secretary role leading courts administration. Before then, Graham had been Director of the Legal Branch at the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet. Graham spent 14 years in private practice and was a partner at the Melbourne law firm of Ryan Carlisle Thomas. He was also an Associate to Justice Gray at the Federal Court of Australia.

Graham was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia in 1990.

Graham has a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Laws from Monash University. Graham has also completed a doctoral thesis at the University of Melbourne’s law school.

Louise Smith | Executive Officer

Louise is the Executive Officer for National Legal Aid and was appointed to the role in 2002.

Louise has held senior and management roles and has extensive practical legal experience representing clients gained at the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service and in private practice, and as an employee and volunteer solicitor at community legal centres in Tasmania and Victoria.

Louise is a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Courts in the Australian states of Tasmania and Victoria and is entitled to practice in Australian Commonwealth law courts.

Louise has a combined arts law degree from Monash University (Victoria) and an Associate Diploma of Modern Languages (Indonesian) from the University of Tasmania.

How we are funded

The commissions receive funding from three sources, and for the 2015-16 financial year the funding comprised:

  • Commonwealth government – $215.224 million
  • State and territory governments – $345.931 million
  • Interest, contributions & fees – $110.087 million

For more information on commission income and expenditure please see our Finance page

Services we provide

In 2015-16 the commissions provided:

  • grants of aid approved = 141,407
  • legal advice (320,312) and minor assistance services (61,243) = 381,555
  • duty lawyer services = 454,842
  • family dispute resolution conferences = 7,906

For more statistics please see our Resources page

We do not provide legal advice