Legal Aid Commissioners
Hon. Jane Crisford SC – Chair (appointed July 2017)
Jane Crisford is the first female Chairperson of the Commission. She has extensive experience in civil, criminal and family law and comes to the Commission as a highly respected practitioner and former member of the judiciary.
Jane studied law at UWA and was admitted to practice in 1978. She worked at the then Crown Law Department and later at Parker & Parker, before becoming an establishing partner at Key & Crisford, which was one of the first all-female legal partnerships in WA. In 1984, she joined the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA as the solicitor-in-charge of its West Kimberley Office. She was counsel representing Aboriginal families in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In 1991, she joined Dwyer Durack where she became an accredited family law specialist and later a partner.
Jane joined the independent bar in 1998 and was appointed senior counsel in 2002. She was appointed President of the Equal Opportunity Commission in 2003 and served as a Judge of the District Court of WA from 2004 to 2006. She was then appointed as a Judge of the Family Court of WA from 2006, until her retirement in 2016. She has previously held a number of voluntary positions, including as a member of the Chief Justice's Indigenous Committee, Women Lawyers of WA, the Law Society of WA, Legal Practice Board, WA Bar Association and the Australian Association of Women Judges.
Dr Graham Hill - Director of Legal Aid WA (appointed May 2018)
Graham Hill started as CEO of Legal Aid Western Australia in May 2018. Graham was the Chair of National Legal Aid from 2017-18. He served as CEO of Legal Aid Tasmania from 2014-18. Before that, Graham spent three years as Deputy Secretary, Courts, at the Department of Justice in Victoria. He was Director of the Legal Branch at the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet for eight years.
Graham worked for 14 years as a lawyer in private practice and was a partner in a Melbourne law firm. He also served as an Associate to a Federal Court judge. Graham has a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Laws from Monash University. He also has a specialist doctorate in law from the University of Melbourne.
Dion Smith (appointed December 2010 – nominated by the State Attorney General)
Dion Smith holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Western Australia, and Masters of Business Administration from the University of NSW/University of Sydney. Dion has extensive experience in management and executive roles, particularly in sales, strategy and marketing.
In November 2019, Dion was reappointed as a Commissioner for another three years.
Dion is currently consulting across a range of industries. He has served as an Executive Director on the board of recruitment and professional services companies. He was also a board member for the WA State Branch of Save the Children from 2006 - 2008.
Dion has four children and is involved in many voluntary activities through the school and sports communities.
Lanie Chopping (appointed January 2018 - nominated by the Minister for Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety)
Lanie is the Acting Director General of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. Prior to that she was the Commissioner for Consumer Protection and A/Executive Director, Consumer Protection (Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety), undertaking a range of statutory roles and responsibilities.
A social worker by profession, Lanie first joined Consumer Protection in 2011. Lanie has also been head of the Priorities Implementation Unit at the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Western Australia, worked in a senior role at the Economic Regulation Authority, managed the social policy unit at the West Australian Council of Social Services, and worked in community legal centres including in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Lanie was the inaugural Convenor of the National Regulators Community of Practice Western Australian Chapter. She is a Leadership WA alumni from 2007 and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Steve Toutountzis (appointed January 2018 - nominated by the State Attorney General)
Until recently, Steve held the position of Director of Performance and Evaluation – Group 1, with the Strategic Policy and Evaluation Business Unit of the Department of Treasury. His responsibilities included analysis and strategic advice to government on budgetary and financial management issues impacting Health, Social Services and Transport Portfolios.
Steve has been in the State Public Service for over 30 years and a member of the Senior Executive Service since 2005 and has held a number of senior positions including Chief Financial Officer of the former Department of Treasury and Finance. Steve holds a Bachelor of Business from Edith Cowan University and is a Certified Practising Accountant.
Elspeth Hensler (appointed May 2018 - nominated by the Law Society of WA)
Elspeth is a barrister at Francis Burt Chambers, practising in commercial matters including banking, corporate, insolvency, revenue, mining, construction and succession matters.
Elspeth is a former Chair of the WA Legal Assistance Forum and former President of Australian Women Lawyers and Women Lawyers of WA. She was a member of the steering committee that produced the 20th Anniversary Review of the Chief Justice’s 1994 Gender Bias Taskforce Report. She also authored the private residential tenancy and social housing residential tenancy sections of the Lawyer's Practice Manual WA.
She is a current member of the WA Bar Council, and is involved with coordinating the WA Bar Association’s response to requests for pro bono assistance, as well as its CPD and Bar Reader courses. She is also Deputy Chair of the Advisory Board of the School of Law at Notre Dame University in Fremantle.
In 2014, Elspeth was presented with the Attorney General’s Community Service Law Award and jointly presented with the WA Bar Association Distinguished Service Award. In 2015, she received Women Lawyers of WA’s award for Woman Lawyer of the Year.
Note: Since April 2000, the Commonwealth Attorney-General has declined to nominate new members to the Commission.
Reviewed: 13 October 2020