find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
SA Legal Services Commission claims it's almost broke

SA Legal Services Commission claims it's almost broke

The Legal Services Commission of South Australia (LSC) is heading for financial disaster, according to its director, Hamish Gilmore.Speaking to Lawyers Weekly on Wednesday, Gilmore said the…

The Legal Services Commission of South Australia (LSC) is heading for financial disaster, according to its director, Hamish Gilmore.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly on Wednesday, Gilmore said the financial situation of the LSC was becoming increasingly dire, with an operating deficit of $1.5 million predicted for next year.

"The bottom line is that we have enough money to run for this financial year, but our expenditure is now exceeding our receipts. We will begin the next financial year in a position where we will have effectively depleted our reserves. Unless we can get supplementation we are going to have a shortfall," he said.

And this, according to Gilmore, would be catastrophic for the growing number of people who rely on the LSC's services.

"More and more people are seeking legal aid. We are granting more and more applications for criminal matters ... and they are in higher jurisdictions. So the cost of providing legal aid is going up while our receipts are going down. It is a formula for disaster," he said.

Gilmore has blamed the diminishing funds on the effects of the global financial crisis, as well as falling interest rates.

"The major reason for [the shortfall] is because the interest we get from solicitors' trust accounts has plummeted, for two reasons. One was the GFC, as there wasn't as much money going through their trust accounts. The other was that interest rates fell, so when interest rates halve we get half the amount of receipts," he said.

A spokesperson from the South Australian Attorney-General's department told Lawyers Weekly on Thursday that it is impossible for the LSC to go broke.

"Because it is a statutory body, it can't run out of money. It is like saying that the health department will run out of money. At the beginning of the financial year the LSC had, on top of the money allocated to them, $7 million in reserve funds," he said.

While Gilmore agrees that there is about $7 million in the LSC's reserves, he says that $3.4 million of this has already been promised to lawyers for upcoming legal work and $1.5 million is allocated for staff long service leave.

"It is not as if there is just money sloshing around. It is money that has actually been committed ... and it is not available for operating expenditure," he said.

The Attorney-General's department said that any confusion as to the amount of funds held by the LSC could be explained by differences in administration.

"[The LSC's] accounting methods are done slightly differenty to those of our department, so that is where lots of the confusion lies," he said.

Gilmore said the LSC has had to dip into funds previously earmarked for the updating of vital computer and accommodation services, and is looking to the State Government to provide extra funding in next year's budget.

"If we don't get extra funding in the budget it means that ... we will continue to limp along with substandard computing systems and substandard accommodation," he said.

And, according to Gilmore, it is not just South Australia's LSC that is feeling the pinch.

"This is happening around the nation and all of the [legal aid] commissions are in the same boat," he said. "We are hurting."

- Claire Chaffey

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

SA Legal Services Commission claims it's almost broke
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice, ALA, right-to-die law
06:04
‘Right-to-die’ laws would be a relief for terminally ill: ALA
The passage of an assisted dying bill through the lower house of Victorian Parliament has been haile...
Diversity
06:00
Diversity top of agenda for future WA Law Society president
The advancement of diversity in the Western Australian legal profession will be one of the key items...
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...