John McKenzie was re-appointed as Legal Services Commissioner NSW on 28 February 2019 for a period of five years. The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner receives complaints about solicitors and barristers practising in New South Wales and strives to improve the ethical and professional behaviour of legal practitioners in providing services to consumers of legal services.
John has had a career as a lawyer working for Aboriginal Legal Services spanning more than 30 years in various remote, regional and urban centres having begun his career at the ALS in Moree, north-western NSW in 1980. He was a Principal Solicitor on the staff of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1988 – 1991 under Commissioner Hal Wootton QC. He was part of the team compiling the Final Report of that Royal Commission in Adelaide under Head Commissioner Elliott Johnson QC.
Since then he has worked to have the recommendations implemented by all levels of government, with little success. He received the NSW Law and Justice Foundation’s Justice Medal in 2011 for his work towards improving access to justice for Aboriginal people. He was the Chief Legal Officer of the ALS (NSW/ACT) based in Redfern from 2006 before being appointed to his current role as the Legal Services Commissioner NSW in 2015.
John continues to be a member of the Legal Information Access Centres Advisory Board (the State Library of NSW) and the Strategic Directions Committee of “Just Reinvest NSW” (auspiced by the ALS (NSW/ACT)).
In June 2020 John was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia ( AM ) for his services to the law, the legal profession and the pursuit of social justice for Aboriginal communities in the Queen’s Birthday Awards.