Legal Aid Commissioners

Under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1976 (WA), the Legal Aid Commission consists of:

  • a Chairperson, who is a lawyer with at least seven years’ experience and is nominated by the State Attorney General
  • the Director of Legal Aid WA
  • four members, who are nominated by the State Attorney General, where:
    • two are lawyers recommended by the Law Society of Western Australia, and
    • another has administrative experience at a senior level, but is not a lawyer,
  • one member, who is not a lawyer and is nominated by the State Minister responsible for consumer protection, and
  • two members nominated by the Commonwealth Attorney-General.

All members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor of Western Australia.

The Commission meets each month. You can read the profiles of our current Commissioners below. Information about previous members of the Commission can be found by reading through our annual reports.

Hon. Jane Crisford SC – Chair (appointed July 2017)

Hon Jane Crisford SC

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)

Dr Graham Hill - Director of Legal Aid WA

Graham was appointed as Director of Legal Aid WA for a 5 year term commencing on 7 May 2018.

Graham was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia in 1990. He was an Associate to Justice Gray at the Federal Court of Australia, before working for 14 years in private practice, including as a partner at the Melbourne law firm of Ryan Carlisle Thomas. He spent eight years as Director of the Legal Branch at the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and three years at the Department of Justice in Victoria, before taking on the role of Director of Legal Aid Tasmania.

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

In addition to being the Director of Legal Aid WA, Graham is also the current Chairperson of National Legal Aid.

 

Dion Smith (appointed December 2010 – nominated by the State Attorney General)

Commissioner Dion Smith

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.

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.

 

Genevieve Cleary (appointed January 2018 - nominated by the Law Society of WA)

Commissioner Genevieve Cleary

Genevieve has worked as a barrister since 2015 and is based out of Francis Burt Chambers in Perth. Her practice spans criminal, family, investigative and confiscation matters, both at first instance and appellate levels.

Genevieve has experience in all courts including single judge appeals, the Court of Appeal and the Family Court of Appeal, State Administrative and Administrative Appeals Tribunals and the Coroners Court. She takes briefs on behalf of accused, appellants, applicants, respondents, the State, Commonwealth and Federal Police, and respondents to any actions those agencies take.

Previously, Genevieve worked as a State Prosecutor, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for WA. During her lengthy career, she has also worked for Legal Aid WA.

From 2015 to 2017, Genevieve was President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of WA. From 2010 to 2015, she was Chairperson, Legal Training Sub-committee, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for WA. She has also sat on various committees for the Law Society of WA.

 

Lanie Chopping (appointed January 2018 - nominated by the Minister for Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety)

Photo of Commissioner Lanie Chopping

Lanie is the Director Retail and Services at Consumer Protection (Department of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety), overseeing the retail, building and services sectors including the automotive industry and product safety regulation. Lanie also oversees consumer protection services across regional Western Australia and the community education and media teams.

A social worker by profession, Lanie first joined Consumer Protection in 2011. Prior to joining Consumer Protection, Lanie worked with the Economic Regulation Authority, having previously worked as the Manager - Social Policy Unit, at the West Australian Council of Social Services, and in community legal centres, including in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Lanie 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)

Commissioner Steve Toutountzis

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)

Commissioner Elspeth Hensler

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: 20 April 2018

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.