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 Anthony Reilly, CEO of Legal Aid Queensland.

Anthony Reilly | NLA Chair

Anthony began employment as Legal Aid Queensland’s Chief Executive Officer in November 2009.

He was a lawyer for many years before commencing work in 1999 in public sector policy and management roles in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Department of Employment and Training, and Queensland Health.

In 2016 Anthony was appointed temporarily as chief executive officer of the Public Safety Business Agency to lead an organisational change program. Prior to working in government, Anthony worked for several community legal centres including the Refugee Advice and Immigration Legal Service, Environmental Defenders Office, Basic Rights Queensland and Prisoners Legal Service.

Anthony holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration, and was admitted to practice as a solicitor in 1991.

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 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 Court in the Australian states of Tasmania and Victoria and is entitled to practice in 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 2018-19 financial year the funding comprised:

  • Commonwealth government – $241.439 million
  • State and territory governments – $494.622 million
  • Interest, contributions & fees – $102.669 million

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

Services we provide

In 2018-19 the commissions provided:

  • grants of aid approved = 149,814
  • legal advice (291,206) and legal task services (42,681) = 333,887
  • duty lawyer services = 479,083
  • family dispute resolution conferences = 8,116

For more statistics please see our Resources page

We do not provide legal advice