Victoria Legal Aid is urging the Commonwealth and State Governments to return to a co-operative approach to legal aid in Australia.
The call comes as legal aid across the country received a $30 million boost in the federal budget over the next two years, well short of the $152 million it was asking for.
David Neil, of the Law Council of Australia, says the Commonwealth should return to being an equal partner with the states in legal aid funding.
"Their overall share in legal funding was in 1997, 55 per cent and the Howard government made drastic cuts for aborigines, pensioners and beneficiaries and immigrants," he said.
"Legal aid for those people was previously the Commonwealth's responsibility."
Victoria Legal Aid, which made changes to its eligibility guidelines earlier this year, will receive an extra $7 million over two years.
But it will be $10 million over budget this year alone and the extra funding will lapse after two years.
"(That) makes it difficult to make changes which have an ongoing cost to our budget such as changing eligibility guidelines," Victoria Legal Aid managing director Bevan Warner said in a statement.
Mr Neil says the courts will remain gridlocked.
"(We are) grateful for any amount of money, but this will not elevate the crisis almost at all," he said.
"The crisis sees criminal trials in the Supreme Court being stayed and in the Magistrates Court, people facing charges without representation because they can't afford to pay for it."